Sri Lankan PM's Office says president Rajapaksa has left country
The Sri Lankan Prime Minister's Office said on Wednesday that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has left the country, hours before his resignation is expected to be announced.
"The Prime Minister's Office confirms that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has left the country," the Prime Minister's Media Division said in a statement.
The Sri Lanka Air Force said in a separate statement that it had arranged an air force flight early on Wednesday for President Rajapaksa and the first lady along with two security officials at the Bandaranaike International Airport to fly to the Maldives.
The Maldivian media reported earlier that a military aircraft carrying Rajapaksa landed at the Velana International Airport at around 3am local time.
Rajapaksa had informed the speaker of Sri Lankan parliament that he would resign from the presidency on Wednesday. Sri Lanka this year has been suffering a severe economic crisis which has led to protests.
Sri Lanka's speaker of parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said political party leaders have decided to elect a new president on July 20 through a vote in parliament.