Immigration officials refused Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s entry to the VIP lounge at Colombo airport to stamp his passport, when the head of state wanted to avoid opening the terminal to the public, fearing people’s reaction.
Rajapaksa has yet to resign, which he has pledged today to allow for a “peaceful transition of power”.
The head of state and his wife had spent the night at a military base near the international airport after missing four flights that could have taken them to the United Arab Emirates.
His younger brother, Basil, who resigned as Finance Minister in April, also missed his trip to Dubai after a similar incident with immigration.
“Some other passengers protested against Bassel’s boarding,” an airport official told AFP. “It was a tense situation, so [Basil] He left the airport in a hurry.
A diplomatic source said Bassel, who also holds US citizenship, had to apply for a new passport after the document was left in the presidential palace when Rajapaksa’s family fled on Saturday as thousands of protesters invaded.
The president’s office does not release information on the whereabouts of the still-incumbent head of state, but Rajapaksa remains the commander-in-chief of the army, with military resources at his disposal.
For the same reason, a defense source said, she still had the option of leaving the country on a military ship bound for India or the Maldives.
If the Head of State resigns as promised, then the Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, will be automatically appointed as Acting President until Parliament elects a Deputy to exercise power until the end of the current term, i.e. until November 2024.
However, Wickremesinghe is also facing opposition from protesters outside the presidential palace, who for more than three months have been calling for the president’s resignation in the face of the country’s unprecedented economic crisis.
Rajapaksa is accused of economic mismanagement, which has led the country to assume the inability to finance the most important imports for its population of 22 million, due to a shortage of foreign currency.
Colombo failed to pay its $51 billion (50.9 billion euros) foreign debt in April, and is in talks with the International Monetary Fund for possible emergency assistance.
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