Mahinda Rajapaksa to remain in naval base until normalcy restored

Colombo, May 11 (IANS) Former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family will remain at the Trincomalee naval base until normalcy returns to the island nation following widespread violence that caused him to flee Colombo, Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne announced on Wednesday.

Addressing the media, Gunaratne said that Rajapaksa will be moved to a location he wishes, once the situation in the country returns to normalcy, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Defence Secretary said that the military will provide security to Rajapaksa as long as it takes because as a former President he is entitled to security for life.

Rajapaksa, his wife Shiranthi, and their youngest son Rohitha and his family, left the Prime Minister’s official residence, Temple Trees, early Tuesday morning on board an Air Force helicopter.

Violence erupted in the country after he resigned on Monday.

A number of violent incidents have taken place in the country after pro-government groups clashed with anti-government protesters on Monday, leaving eight people, including an MP, dead and over 200 others injured.

A nationwide curfew has been extended until Thursday morning.

The island nation, hit by the most severe economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948, is currently without a government.

With a severe financial crisis due to dollar crunch and inflation, protests that started on March 31 have been continuing throughout the country demanding the Rajapaksas to resign.

In the wake of the protests, the cabinet resigned but Mahinda Rajapaksa formed a new cabinet under his leadership.

With the lack of fuel and gas and hours-long power cuts, people took to the streets and demanded that the immediate resignation of the government.

Meanwhile, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has has urged the opposition to form an all-party government, but the latter has refused to do so until he steps down.

The state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation on Wednesday announced that fuel distribution has been temporarily suspended due to the current security situation.