Sri Lanka's president is stuck in his own country after airport staff blocked him from fleeing

Business Insider US
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has promised to resign on Wednesday. Andy Buchanan - Pool/Getty Images
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has promised to resign on Wednesday. Andy Buchanan - Pool/Getty Images
  • Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was blocked from catching a flight out of his country.
  • He attempted to flee the island nation after protestors stormed his official residence on Saturday.
  • He's been accused of botching Sri Lanka's economy to the point that it can't afford essential goods.
  • For more stories go to

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was blocked from leaving his own country on Tuesday as airport immigration staff refused to facilitate his escape from a nation in crisis.

The president, who's been accused of mismanaging Sri Lanka's economy to the point of collapse, fled his official residence just before it was breached by protestors on Saturday and sought a flight to Dubai, Agence France-Presse reported.

However, when he arrived at the airport, immigration officers declined to enter the VIP suite to stamp his passport, as per AFP, citing government sources. Rajapaksa had avoided going through the public customs channel out of fear that people at the airport would harass or attack him, the outlet reported.

As a result, he and his wife missed four flights to the United Arab Emirates, as per AFP.

Rajapaksa promised he would resign on Wednesday as mass protests rage across the capital of Colombo over Sri Lanka's worst economic disaster in decades. Thousands of demonstrators stormed the presidential residence on Saturday, overrunning its luxurious grounds and making themselves at home.

Citing official sources, AFP reported that authorities seized a suitcase left at Rajapaska's residence that contained documents and nearly 18 million rupees, or $50,000.

According to Bloomberg, Rajapaksa's younger brother, Basil, who was also the country's former finance minister, received similar treatment from immigration officials at the airport.

The officials had refused to process the younger Rajapaksa's departure after airport staff heard he was trying to flee and demanded that he stay in the country, the outlet reported.

An airport official told AFP that other passengers "protested against Basil boarding their flight" and that he "hurriedly left the airport" after being prevented from flying.

According to a defense source cited by AFP, the Rajapaksas could possibly still leave the country aboard a navy vessel to India or the Maldives.

Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.

Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo