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Where is Gotabaya Rajapaksa?

As protests continue to rage in Colombo the exact location of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa remains unclear.

Since fleeing his residence his property has been taken over by protesters demanding his resignation. Speaking to AFP news agency, a defence source stated that the President was escorted to safety ahead of the protests. But questions remain as to whether the besieged president has left the capital or even the island, by plane or sea.

Activity at Colombo Port

Early this morning, whilst protestors were rummaging through Rajapaksa’s belongings, several suitcases of luggage were seen being loaded onto the Sri Lankan navy vessel SLNS Gajabahu.

The boat, an Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel of the Sri Lanka Navy, was docked at Colombo Port.

Convoy at Katunayake Airport

Meanwhile, at Colombo’s international airport, a convoy of military vehicles were seen on the runways, sparking rumour the Rajapaksa may attempt to flee Sri Lanka by air. Unconfirmed rumours claim he may have flown to a Middle Eastern country.

"We hear he's hiding out at an army camp somewhere in the suburbs of Colombo and so I think this is a turning point and there is no return back," Ram Manikkalingam, an adviser to former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, told the BBC.

Fleeing to Tamil Eelam?

Previously President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's brother and former Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, fled to a navy base in Trincomalee amidst protests in May.

The besieged former Sri Lankan prime minister fled to the Tamil North-East after facing a night of angry protests outside his residence at Temple Trees. Hundreds of people had arrived at the gates of the base, demanding that Rajapaksa, who is accused of war crimes and genocide, be imprisoned.

The Tamil homeland continues to be heavily occupied by the Sri Lankan military, with tens of thousands of troops stationed in the region.

Despite his whereabouts not yet being revealed, the Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana, said Rajapaksa has agreed to resign on 13 July 2022.

Read more here and here.

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