Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has fled the country early on Wednesday, two sources told Reuters.
Within the next few hours, he was supposed to announce to step down amid widespread protests over his handling of a devastating economic crisis.
Rajapaksa, his wife and two bodyguards left aboard a Sri Lankan Air Force plane, an immigration official told Reuters.
A government source said he left for the city of Male, the capital of the Maldives. The president would most likely proceed to another Asian country from there, the source said.
The immigration official said authorities could not under law prevent a sitting president from leaving the country.
Rajapaksa was due to step down as president on Wednesday to make way for a unity government, after thousands of protesters stormed his and the prime minister’s official residences on Saturday demanding their ouster.
The president has not been seen in public since Friday. Parliament will elect his replacement on July 20.