Rajapaksa departed from the Maldivian capital Male on board a “Saudi flight”, the source said. Rajapaksa had been waiting to secure a “private plane” from a close relative in Colombo, but that “didn’t materialize”, the source added.
CNN believes the source was referring to Saudia Flight 788, which departed Male at 11:30 am, according to the source. The flight landed in Singapore at 7:17 p.m. local time on Thursday, according to the Changi Airport website.
Saudia is the flag carrier airline of Saudi Arabia.
CNN has contacted the Foreign Ministry of Singapore and Saudi Arabia, but has not received a response.
Rajapaksa had been in the Maldives for a day after fleeing Sri Lanka early Wednesday, the same day he said he would resign.
But as of Thursday, Sri Lanka’s parliament speaker had not received any formal letter of resignation, raising questions about the intentions of an apparently self-exiled leader who appointed the prime minister as interim president during his absence from his island nation.
Shortly after Rajapaksa left the country, protesters stormed the office of interim President Ranil Wickremesinghe to demand his elimination. Wickremesinghe responded by calling for a nationwide overnight curfew.
On Thursday, Wickremesinghe gave the Sri Lankan armed forces special arrest powers and ordered them to “exercise force” if necessary to quell protests across the country, army spokesman Brigadier Nilantha Premaratne said in a speech. televised.
“In view of the escalation in violence, protesters attempting to harm the armed forces or public property are strongly urged to desist from all forms of violence immediately or be prepared to face the consequences, as members of the armed forces are legitimately empowered to exercise force. Premarathne said.
Many protesters have vowed to continue demonstrating until both men resign.
On Thursday morning, as questions swirled about the future of Sri Lanka, calm had gripped the streets of Colombo, the commercial capital.
A lawyer representing the Popular Protest Movement said Thursday that all the occupied buildings, except the Presidential Secretariat, will be returned to the authorities.
“We want to state that this is a peaceful protest and we have no intention of resorting to any form of violence,” Swasthika Arulingam told reporters.
“This has always been and will continue to be a peaceful movement.”
But everywhere there are signs that the country remains on a knife edge.
Amid crippling fuel shortages, abandoned vehicles line streets near gas stations. People can no longer drive to work, so they cycle instead. Some have gotten used to sleeping in their cars.
The Sri Lankan police force said a police officer was seriously injured during the protests and was receiving treatment at hospital. An army sergeant was also injured, he added.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday he was following developments in Sri Lanka “very closely” and called for a “peaceful and democratic transition”.
“It is important that the root causes of the conflict and the protesters’ grievances are addressed,” he wrote on Twitter. “I urge all party leaders to embrace the spirit of compromise for a peaceful and democratic transition.”