President Rajapaksa to resign on July 13; PM Wickremesinghe also offers to resign
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had moved out of his residence on Friday in anticipation of Saturday’s protests Speaker Abeywardena to become acting President
SRI Lanka’s embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would resign on July 13, Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said on Saturday night. President Rajapaksa informed the Speaker about this decision after Abeywardena wrote to him asking for his resignation following the all-party leaders meeting held Saturday evening. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday offered to resign and form an all-party Government, hours after thousands of protesters stormed the official residence of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who appears to have gone underground in the face of massive public anger over an unprecedented economic crisis that has brought Sri Lanka to its knees. His whereabouts was not known after he was moved out of his residence on Friday ahead of Saturday’s protests during which thousands of irate anti-government protesters stormed into his official residence in Colombo. Abeywardena wrote to Rajapaksa on the decisions made at the meeting.
The party leaders had demanded the immediate resignation of Rajapaksa and his Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to make way for Abeywardena to become acting President until Parliament appointed a successor. Rajapaksa responded to his letter, saying he would quit on July 13. In remarkable scenes, hinting at a society in a meltdown, anti-government protesters were seen occupying a bedroom, sitting on a four poster bed, helping themselves to food in the kitchen and splashing in a swimming pool in Gotabaya’s residence. With no other political solution in sight, Wickremasinghe, who was appointed by Gotabaya in May to fix the island nation’s bankrupt economy, offered to step down. Wickremesinghe was appointed by the President after his elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa was forced to resign in May, amidst massive anti-government protests.
The Prime Minister’s Media Division said that Wickremesinghe will resign after an all-party Government is established and a majority is secured in Parliament. Wickremesinghe told Opposition party leaders that he was taking the decision to step down as the island-wide fuel distribution is due to recommence this week, the World Food Programme Director is due to visit the country this week and the debt sustainability report for the International Monetary Fund is due to be finalised shortly.
Wickremesinghe said in a voice statement that he will resign when all parties have agreed on a new Government. Protesters have now also entered the official residence of Wickremesinghe. Videos show protesters taking selfies on beds and sitting on furniture, while hundreds have been chanting “we say go now” and waving Sri Lankan flags in the main foyer of the house. At least 45 people, including seven security personnel, were injured in clashes between security forces and the protesters.