Sri Lankan crisis | Ex-finance minister Basil Rajapaksa banned from leaving the country

Basil Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s former finance minister and younger brother of embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was turned away at Colombo airport on July 12 as he tried to leave the country through the VIP terminal, an official said. immigration, amid growing anger against the powerful family. for mishandling the worst economic crisis.

Mr Basil Rajapaksa, 71, attempted to leave the beleaguered island nation, a day before Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena is expected to publicly announce President Rajapaksa’s resignation to the nation.

Read also: Explained | What caused the Sri Lankan economic crisis?

President Rajapaksa signed his letter of resignation, dated July 1, on July 11 and it was later handed over to a senior government official who will deliver it to the Speaker of Parliament.



Mr. Basil Rajapaksa, a US passport holder, resigned as finance minister in early April as street protests escalated over shortages of fuel, food and other basic necessities and has left his seat in parliament in June.

The Association of Immigration and Emigration Officers of Sri Lanka said its members refused to serve Mr Basil Rajapaksa at the VIP terminal at Colombo airport.

“Due to the crisis situation in the country, it has been decided to withdraw from the Silk Road/CIP passenger clearance business until further notice,” the union said in a statement, according to Economy Next website.

“We have decided to withdraw from servicing the Silk Road Passenger Clearance Terminal from midnight yesterday,” said KAS Kanugala, the chairman of the association.

People walk past a poster showing defaced portraits of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother Basil at the ongoing protest site outside the president’s office three days after he was stormed in Colombo, Sri Lanka on July 12, 2022 .| Photo credit: AP

He said corrupt people try to leave the country using the service.

Immigration officers objected to serving him at the VIP queue and even passengers on the Emirates flight to Dubai had objected to his departure.

Mr. Basil Rajapaksa is widely held responsible for the country’s worst economic crisis, which has brought misery to the people.

Political uncertainty reigns in Sri Lanka where the distribution of cooking gas has resumed alongside the delivery of fuel to retailers by the Indian Oil Company after a shutdown on Sunday. Long queues are still visible at the fuel pumps.

Protesters continue to occupy the capital’s three main buildings, the President’s House, the Presidential Secretariat and the Prime Minister’s official residence, Temple Trees.

Police near the Temple Trees said a clash broke out between two groups of protesters, injuring 6 people.

With President Rajapaksa’s resignation slated for July 13, Sri Lanka’s political parties took steps on July 11 to form a multi-party government and then elected a new president on July 20 to prevent the bankrupt nation from sliding further into disarray. ‘anarchy.

President Rajapaksa has officially notified Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that he will step down on July 13 as previously announced, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Monday, days after protesters stormed the homes of the two angry leaders against the government’s mismanagement of the country’s worst economic crisis.

The parties began to campaign for the support of possible candidates. The main opposition SJB party said it would campaign for the nomination of Sajith Premadasa as interim president.

Mr Premadasa said on July 11 that Sri Lanka’s main opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), was ready to lead the country at presidential and prime minister levels and develop the economy.

Mr. Premadasa said his party is ready to pursue a program aimed at bringing stability to the country.

“We will appoint a government led by a president and a prime minister. There is not any other way. If anyone opposes it or tries to sabotage it in parliament, we will consider it a treacherous act,” he said.

The Sri Lankan Parliament will elect a new president on July 20 to succeed Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President Abeywardena announced on July 11.

Under the Sri Lankan Constitution, if the President and Prime Minister resign, the speaker of parliament will serve as interim president for up to 30 days.

Parliament will elect a new president within 30 days from one of its members, who will serve for the remaining two years of the current term.

Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is in the grip of an unprecedented economic crisis, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other necessities.

Schools have been suspended and fuel has been limited to essential services. Patients cannot travel to hospitals due to fuel shortages and soaring food prices.

Train frequency has decreased, forcing travelers to squeeze into compartments and even sit precariously on them when commuting to work.

In several major cities, including Colombo, hundreds of people are forced to queue for hours to buy fuel, sometimes clashing with police and military as they wait.

The country, with an acute foreign exchange crisis that led to a foreign debt default, announced in April that it was suspending repayment of nearly $7 billion in foreign debt due for this year out of about 25 billion due until 2026. Sri Lanka’s total external debt stands at $51 billion.