As Sri Lankans stage massive protests following the flight of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to the Maldives, Maldivians began trending #GotaGoHome on Twitter on Wednesday.
“Gota Go Home” is the rallying cry of the anti-government demonstrations in Sri Lanka. If the trend is anything to go by, many in the Maldives are standing in solidarity with their neighbours across the pond and demanding that the Sri Lankan president be sent back to his country post haste.
According to local media reports, Maldivians and Sri Lankan expatriates are protesting near the Maldives President’s home, urging authorities to expel Gotabaya Rajapaksa from the island nation.
On Saturday, Rajapaksa had announced that he would step down on Wednesday amid mass scale protests against him that saw protesters storming the presidential palace and other key government institutions over the weekend. However, hours before he was due to hand in his resignation, the 71-year-old fled Sri Lanka for the Maldives, along with his wife and two bodyguards.
Anger over President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s flight brought Sri Lankans back out on the streets. Thousands of protesters demanding that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also step down rallied outside his office compound. The protests took a violent turn as people broke barricades and scaled walls, prompting security personnel to lob tear gas shells and resort to baton charge to disperse the crowds.
As the protests escalated outside the prime minister’s office, Ranil Wickremesinghe, now the acting president, imposed a state of emergency that gives broader powers to the military and police, and declared an immediate curfew in the western province that includes Colombo.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe last week said Sri Lanka is now a bankrupt country.
(With inputs from Agencies)
— ENDS —