Sri Lanka Crisis LIVE Updates: Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is due to offer his resignation on Wednesday, has landed in the Maldivian capital of Male, sources here said this morning. Quoting Maldivian sources, they said he was received by a Maldivian government representation at the Velana airport last night.

The president would most likely proceed to another Asian country from there, the source said. The immigration official said authorities could not under law prevent a sitting president from leaving the country.

Rajapaksa was due to step down as president on Wednesday to make way for a unity government, after thousands of protesters stormed his and the prime minister’s official residences on Saturday demanding their ouster.

The president has not been seen in public since Friday. Parliament will elect his replacement on July 20. The Rajapaksa family, including former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, has dominated the politics of the country of 22 million for years and most Sri Lankans blame them for current problems.

The tourism-dependent economy was hammered badly by the COVID-19 pandemic and a fall in remittances from overseas Sri Lankans, while a ban on chemical fertilisers damaged farm output. The ban was later reversed.

The Rajapaksas implemented populist tax cuts in 2019 that affected government finances while shrinking foreign reserves curtailed imports of fuel, food and medicines.

Petrol has been severely rationed and long lines have formed in front of shops selling cooking gas. Headline inflation hit 54.6% last month and the central bank has warned that it could rise to 70% in coming months.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, the president’s brother, resigned as prime minister in May after protests against the family turned violent. He remained in hiding at a military base in the east of the country for some days before returning to Colombo.

Protests against the government have simmered since May, but erupted afresh last Saturday when hundreds of thousands of people surged into Colombo and occupied key government buildings and residences.

On Tuesday, immigration officials prevented another of the president’s brothers, former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa, from flying out of the country.

It was not clear where Basil Rajapaksa, who also holds U.S. citizenship, was trying to go. He resigned as finance minister in early April amid heavy street protests against fuel and food shortages, and quit his seat in parliament in June.

Earlier on Monday night, Rajapaksa and his brother Basil, also Sri Lanka’s former finance minister, were turned back at the Colombo airport as they attempted to leave the country amid mounting anger against the powerful family for mishandling the worst economic crisis. There is no official confirmation on Rajapaksa’s departure from Sri Lanka as yet.

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