Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Sri Lanka prime minister’s office confirms president to step down after protests

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After tens of thousands of protesters stormed both men’s official residences, Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa informed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of his intention to resign, the prime minister’s office said on Monday.

Following Saturday’s massive protests in the aftermath of a crippling economic crisis, the speaker of parliament announced Rajapaksa’s resignation on Wednesday. However, Rajapaksa has not made any public statements about his plans.

Wickremesinghe has also stated that he will resign to allow an all-party interim government to take over.

Protest leaders have stated that crowds will continue to occupy the president’s and prime minister’s residences in Colombo until they resign.

On Monday, Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest city, was calm as hundreds of people walked into the president’s secretariat and residence and toured the colonial-era buildings. No one was stopped by the police.

“We are not going anywhere until this president leaves and we have a government that the people accept,” said Jude Hansana, 31, who has been protesting outside the presidential residence since early April.

“The people are fighting for broader political reforms. Not only should the president leave. This is only the beginning.”

Another protester, Dushantha Gunasinghe, said he walked part of the way to Colombo from a town 130 kilometres (80 miles) away due to the fuel shortage. He claimed to have arrived on Monday morning.

Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe were not at their homes when the protesters stormed in, and they have not been seen in public since Friday. Their current location is unknown.

Wickremesinghe’s private home in an affluent Colombo suburb was set on fire, according to police, and three suspects have been arrested.

According to constitutional experts, once the president and prime minister formally resign, the speaker will be appointed as acting president, and parliament will vote for a new president within 30 days to complete Rajapaksa’s term, which was set to end in 2024.

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