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Deposed Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa denied US visa, flees to the Maldives via jet

  • Deposed Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has reportedly fled to the Maldives with his family on a military jet, days after being denied a visitor's visa by the U.S. embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

  • Rajapaksa had requested a visa to travel to California over the weekend after fleeing the presidential palace, which was stormed by angry protesters on Sunday.

  • “It was made very clear to him that there will be no visa for him,” a representative from the embassy was quoted by SBS as saying. “He could go there as a head of state without a visa, but the current circumstances are different.”

  • Rajapaksa and his brother’s earlier attempt to flee the country was also foiled by airport staff and angry locals who blocked them from boarding a flight to Dubai.

  • On Wednesday, the country’s air force confirmed that Rajapaksa had flown to the Maldives with his wife and two security officials.

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Deposed Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa reportedly flew to the Maldives on a military jet, days after being denied a visitor’s visa by the U.S. embassy in Colombo. 

Rajapaksa, who fled the presidential palace after it was stormed by angry protesters on Saturday, had requested a visa to travel to California over the weekend.

“It was made very clear to him that there will be no visa for him,” a representative from the embassy was quoted by SBS as saying. “He could go there as a head of state without a visa, but the current circumstances are different.” 

Another official also confirmed to The Hindu on Tuesday that the 73-year-old’s request for a “safe passage to the U.S.” was denied.

Rajapaksa once had dual citizenship but renounced his U.S. citizenship to participate in the 2019 Sri Lankan presidential election.

The embassy, however, issued a new U.S. passport to his brother Basil, the former finance minister of Sri Lanka, who left his original passport at the presidential residence while fleeing. 

Basil, whose reputation for demanding bribes for government projects earned him the nickname “Mr. Ten Percent,” also attempted to travel to the U.S. where he still has dual citizenship.

Airport staff and angry locals reportedly blocked the brothers’ attempts to flee the country when they tried to board a flight to Dubai.

In a bid to prevent the Rajapaksas from leaving Sri Lanka, a petition seeking travel restrictions on them has been filed in the Sri Lankan Supreme Court. 

The country’s air force revealed that the deposed leader had flown to the Maldives early Wednesday with his wife and two security officials via a military jet.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who Rajapaksa appointed as acting president upon his departure, imposed a state of emergency as the protests continued to escalate outside his office. 

Should Rajapaksa resign as he previously pledged, local lawmakers have agreed to elect a new president on July 20. 

 

Featured Image via ABC News

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