Disgraced President Flees to Maldives and Gets Worst Welcome Ever

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned on Wednesday after massive nationwide protests over the rampant political corruption and the dismal economic crisis that have been plaguing the country in recent months.Rajapaksa’s resignation was the culmination of a week of pure chaos in the Sri Lankan city of Colombo. Protesters—many of whom blamed the former president

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Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned on Wednesday after massive nationwide protests over the rampant political corruption and the dismal economic crisis that have been plaguing the country in recent months.

Rajapaksa’s resignation was the culmination of a week of pure chaos in the Sri Lankan city of Colombo. Protesters—many of whom blamed the former president for the country’s economic collapse—had broken into the president’s official residence, where they photographed themselves napping on his couch, showering in his bathroom, and even swimming in his pool.

After announcing his resignation, the ex-president promptly boarded an overnight flight to the Maldives with his brother, and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was declared acting president of the country in his place.

But if it’s peace and quiet the former president was looking for in the Maldives islands, he was in for a rude awakening.

Upon arrival, Rajapaksa was met with protests in the nation’s capital city, Malé, where dozens had gathered to condemn the Maldivian government’s decision to host the ex-president.

The protests, which took place across the nation’s islands—including in front of the Maldivian president’s house—reportedly grew violent as local police attempted to disperse the crowds, including demonstrators who carried banners that read: “Dear Maldivian friends, please urge your government not to safeguard criminals.”

Even some Maldivian lawmakers had choice words about the decision to give the ex-president refuge, with a member of the Progressive Party of Maldives calling it a “betrayal” to their closely allied country, according to The Deccan Herald.

Demonstration against Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the Maldives, who fled own country after protesters overran his official residence.

AFP / Getty

Meanwhile, back in Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa’s resignation does not seem to have provided much relief to the thousands of citizens who are demanding a full clean-up of the government. The decision to appointment Prime Minister Wickremesinghe—who has faced his own share of corruption allegations—as acting president, has set off another set of riots with hundreds of protesters storming the presidential palace on Wednesday.

“This is the Rajapaksa style of democracy. What a farce. What a tragedy,” Sajith Premadasa, leader of Sri Lanka’s opposition party, said of the decision in a tweet.

The protests on Wednesday were so heated that Wickremesinghe imposed a nationwide curfew. He also told the military to do “whatever it takes” to restore order in the country.

“We must end this fascist threat to democracy… we can’t allow the destruction of state property. The president’s office, the president’s secretariat and the prime minister’s official residence must be returned to proper custody,” he said. “We can’t allow fascists to take over. Some mainstream politicians, too, seem to be supporting these extremists. That is why I declared a nationwide emergency and a curfew.”

The economic situation in Sri Lanka had deteriorated so rapidly in recent months that food and medicine shortages have become widespread, made worse by the pandemic and the 2019 terror attacks which saw its currency collapse by 80 percent, according to AP.

According to local media, former Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa is staying at a Waldorf Astoria resort in the Maldives, but eventually plans to settle down in Singapore.

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