Never thought President Rajapaksa would flee Lanka, says Sanath Jayasuriya

Former Sri Lankan cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya, in an exclusive interview to India Today, said he did not anticipate President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fleeing the country amid protests over the unprecedented economic crisis.

“I never thought it would happen like this and we thought he would resign and remain in the country. Unfortunately, that did not happen. He left the country early this morning to Maldives,” he said.

“Sri Lankans have seen fuel, electricity, gas and health crisis in the last few months. The things people wanted are not there. They have been absorbing all the pressure for a long period and people have come out onto the streets in protest,” Jayasuriya said, adding that the protests have remained largely peaceful.

Protesters angry over power blackouts, shortages of basic goods and rising prices have long demanded that Rajapaksa steps down. But in recent days, protesters entered the presidential palace, set the PM’s residence on fire and forced President Rajapaksa to flee the country.

The former cricketer said it is up to the Speaker and political parties to form a stable government for a few months. The international community will see our country is stable, then only they will be interested in coming and helping Sri Lanka, he said.

“Earlier on, only India gave us 4 billion dollars to come out of this crisis. But still we couldn’t. We need help from other countries as well,” Jayasuriya claimed.

“Protesters asked the President and the prime minister to resign. At this moment, nobody has resigned. I think people want to see the resignation first. I hope the Speaker and political leaders get together to help Sri Lanka,” Jayasuriya said on the political crisis in the island nation.


Sri Lanka declared a state of emergency on Wednesday as protests continued against the President and the prime minister. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the 73-year-old leader, who had promised to resign has appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the acting President hours after he fled the country.

Thousands of protesters waving Lankan flags defied the emergency and surrounded the building of the PM office. The police fired tear gas on protesters who broke through a barricade and stormed the prime minister’s office, calling for his resignation.

Last week, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka is now a bankrupt country as it reels under the worst economic crisis in decades.

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