Hours before resignation, Sri Lanka's president flees

STORY: Just hours before he was due to step down, Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country early on Wednesday and is now in the capital of the Maldives, according to two sources.

Protesters were still gathered in and around Gotabaya’s office on Wednesday.

An immigration official told Reuters that Rajapaksa left with his wife and two bodyguards aboard a Sri Lankan Air Force plane.

The source added that Rajapaksa will likely head to another Asian country from Male.

Rajapaksa's impending resignation comes after thousands stormed his and the prime minister's official residences over the weekend, demanding their ousters over their handling of a devastating economic crisis.

The mood at both residences was festive on Tuesday as families and friends settled into the premises, including Duncan Ratnayake.

"The Prime Minister and the President must listen to the request of the innocent people and hand it over to the country's youth."

The president has not been seen in public since Friday.

Parliament will elect his replacement on July 20.

The immigration official said authorities could not under law prevent a sitting president from leaving the country.

But on Tuesday, officials stopped the president's brother and former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa from flying out of Sri Lanka.

It was not immediately clear where he was trying to go.

The Rajapaksa dynasty had dominated local politics for years, despite most Sri Lankans blaming them for current problems.

Another of the president's brothers, Mahinda Rajapaksa, resigned as prime minister in May after protests against the family turned violent.

His replacement, Ranil Wickremesinghe, did not move into the official residences, and was not present when protesters broke in and set the place on fire.

President Rajapaksa's sudden departure Wednesday marks a historic turning point for the country.

Now, no one from his family remains in a position of power.

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