Reports that Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country and arrived in the Maldives early Tuesday morning have been confirmed.
International news agencies such as AFP and BBC had reported that Gotabaya Rajapaksa left the country and arrived in the Maldives on a military plane early Tuesday. Some reports say he was welcomed at the airport by Parliament Speaker and former President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed. There are also rumors that employees at Velana International Airport (VIA) were given different information in a bid to keep Gotabaya's presence in the Maldives a secret.
According to reports, 73-year-old Gotabaya, his wife, and a bodyguard were among four passengers on board an Antonov-32 plane that reportedly took off from Sri Lanka's international airport last night. As per the reports, they have now left the Maldives after staying at VIA. It is unclear where they went next.
A statement issued by the Sri Lankan Air Force said that the President prepared a SLAF aircraft to fly to the Maldives per his presidential powers and with the approval of the Ministry of Defence. The Air Force confirmed that the aircraft had left Sri Lanka.