MNP to submit motion to parliament over government’s alleged asylum for Gotabaya

A capture from a press conference held by Maldives National Party (MNP). (Sun Photo/Naail Hussain)

Maldives National Party (MNP), on Wednesday, has decided to submit a motion to the parliament to clarify how the Maldivian Government acted in allegedly providing asylum to embattled Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Following foiled attempts to depart to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates - President Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka in the early hours of Wednesday, arriving in the neighboring Maldives, mere hours before he was due to step down from his post over the civilian uprising prompted by the island nation’s devastating economic crisis.

No Maldivian authorities have issued official statements regarding President Rajapaksa’s arrival in the country.

MNP said that its parliamentary group had decided to file a motion at the parliament to clarify how the Maldivian Government acted in giving refuge to President Rajapaksa.

President Rajapaksa’s previous attempts to flee to Dubai and Abu Dhabi were foiled by immigration officials at Bandaranaike International Airport in capital Colombo – as Rajapaksa and his family members had allegedly refused to join a public immigration queue.

President Rajapaksa, along with his wife and two security personnel arrived in the Maldives on an AN32 troop transport plane from the Sri Lanka Air Force.

“Pursuant to the request of the government and in accordance with the powers vested in a President in the Constitution of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka air force provided a plane early today to fly the President, his wife and two security officials to the Maldives,” Sri Lankan air force had said.

President Rajapaksa who has previously served as the Sri Lankan Defense Minister, a general in Sri Lankan armed forces expectedly has allies within armed forces despite the civilian uprising against him.

Sri Lankan presidents are protected from arrest while in power, and it is likely Rajapaksa planned his escape while he still had constitutional immunity. He was scheduled to announce his official resignation on Wednesday evening.

Reports state that President Rajapaksa had arrived in the Maldives at a time Sri Lanka’s Attorney General had requested its Supreme Court to issue a travel ban against him.

The president’s departure followed months of demonstrations that culminated Saturday in protesters storming his home and office and the official residence of his prime minister. The protests have all but dismantled his family’s political dynasty, which ruled Sri Lanka for most of the past two decades.

Civilian protestors accuse the president and his relatives of siphoning money from government coffers for years and Rajapaksa’s administration of hastening the country’s collapse by mismanaging the economy. Although the family denies the corruption allegations, President Rajapaksa acknowledged some of his policies contributed to the turmoil.