Sri Lanka immigration stops president’s brother from flying out to Dubai as anger mounts over the family for damaging the country’s economy
The president’s brother and former finance minister, Basil Rajapaksa, was reportedly prevented from leaving Sri Lanka by immigration officials, who claim the public is furious with the wealthy family for causing a crippling economic catastrophe.
According to sources, Rajapaksa, who is also a citizen of the United States, was attempting to travel to Dubai. As street protests increased due to a lack of fuel, food, and other necessities in early April, he resigned as finance minister. He then left his position in parliament in June.
After tens of thousands of protestors stormed the president and prime minister’s official houses on Saturday, demanding their removal, his elder brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa will step down as president on Wednesday, July 13, to make room for a unity administration.
The president has not been seen in public since Friday and his whereabouts are unclear.
The Sri Lanka Immigration and Emigration Officers Association said its members declined to serve Basil Rajapaksa at the VIP departure lounge of the Colombo airport.
“Given the unrest in Sri Lanka, immigration officials are under tremendous pressure to not allow top-level people to leave the country,” K.A.S. Kanugala, chairman of the association, told Reuters.
“We are concerned for our security. So until this issue is resolved, the immigration officials working at the VIP lounge decided to withdraw their services.”
Pictures of Basil Rajapaksa at the lounge were carried by local media and widely shared on social media, with some people expressing anger at his attempts to leave the country.
The Rajapaksa family, including former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, has dominated the politics of the country of 22 million for years and most Sri Lankans have blamed them for their current misery.
Headline inflation hit 54.6% last month, and the central bank of the country has warned that it could rise to 70% in the coming months.