Parliament Secretariat unaware of Gotabaya Rajapaksa's arrival in the Maldives

The Parliament Secretariat has said it was not aware of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's arrival in the Maldives.

International news agencies such as AFP and BBC have reported that Gotabaya Rajapaksa left Sri Lanka 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.

While it is believed that Speaker Nasheed facilitated Gotabaya to flee to the Maldives, when asked regarding the allegations, Communications Director at the Parliament Secretariat, Hassan Ziyau, said the Parliament was not aware of the matter.

"The parliament office has not been informed," he said in a message sent to the Parliament's WhatsApp group with the local media.