Rajapakse and his wife flew to Male, Maldives in an AN32 troop transport aircraft from the Sri Lankan Air Force.
Local air traffic control denied the plane’s request to land until the Maldivian parliament speaker Majlis and former president Mohamed Nasheed intervened. CNN has reached out to Nasheed for comment.
Rajapaksa’s aides arrived at the Colombo airport on Monday with 15 passports belonging to the president and his family, who had booked seats on a SriLankan Airlines flight departing for Dubai at 6:25 pm. local time, according to a military source.
But since Rajapakse and his family did not show up for cross-checking, immigration officials refused to process the passports issued by the president’s aides. Eventually, the plane took off without the president and his family, the source added.
Sources said another attempt was made to board the family on an Etihad flight from Colombo to Abu Dhabi at 9:20 pm. .
In both cases, the Rajapaksa family was at a nearby airport lounge waiting to be confirmed they could board without queuing among the public, the source said.
On Tuesday, a video released by a former police officer claimed that Rajapakse was staying at a house owned by a top Air Force commander. The Sri Lankan Air Force has denied the claim, describing it as propaganda aimed at tarnishing the reputation of the force and its chief.
Forced to resign
Rajapaksa’s planned resignation on Wednesday — following months of struggles over the country’s crippling economic crisis — would strip him of presidential immunity and leave him vulnerable to legal charges in the country.
Pictures of the strike shared on social media showed protesters singing protest songs and chanting for Rajapakse to resign. Other photos showed groups of demonstrators setting up barbecue pits to grill and cook food.
Report contributed by reporter Rukshana Rizvi.