Sri Lankan president confirms resignation after intense protests
Colombo, Jul 11 (EFE).- Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa officially announced Monday his decision to step down from office later this week following intense protests that culminated into an assault on his official residence during the weekend.
On Saturday, Rajapaksa had first made public his decision to resign on Wednesday this week.
“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has officially informed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that he will resign as previously announced,” the Prime Minister’s Media Unit reported Monday, but did not give further details.
Rajapaksa had earlier conveyed his decision to step down to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, to be effective from Wednesday.
Wickremesinghe, who became prime minister just two months ago and is first in the line of succession to become president, had also announced his resignation on that same day. However, this decision has not been made official yet.
Both leaders had announced their resignations after a massive protest broke through security checkpoints and stormed their residences.
Footage of the demonstrations posted on social networks and the media showed hundreds of protesters inside the facility, posing for photographs in the bedrooms, offices, and swimming pool of the president’s official residence.
Sri Lanka has been undergoing a turbulent period of protests caused by its worst economic crisis since independence from the British Empire in 1948.
For months, the nation has been suffering from a severe shortage of medicines, food and fuel, caused in part by heavy sovereign debt, misguided government policies, and the impact of the pandemic on tourism, one of its main sources of income.
The opposition parties are now trying to build consensus for the urgent formation of a new government to address the delicate situation, while the country’s few reserves are exhausted.
The formation of a new government is fundamental for the island nation, which is currently negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout that will restore fiscal stability.
The IMF said in a statement Sunday they were closely following the developments in Sri Lanka, and hope for a resolution of the current situation that will allow them to resume discussions on a bailout.
On Sunday, the parliamentarians Ranjith Maddumbandara, Wimal Weerawansa, among others, agreed to form a national unity government, but there is no consensus yet on who will head it, political analyst Aruna Kulatunga told EFE.