Sri Lanka declares emergency law: President flees, protesters demand PM's resignation

Prime Minister's spokesman Dinouk Colombage makes announcement



By Qadijah Irshad

Published: Wed 13 Jul 2022, 10:26 AM

Last updated: Wed 13 Jul 2022, 1:09 PM

Sri Lanka’s acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe imposed emergency law and a curfew in capital Colombo and the entire Western province on Wednesday after thousands of angry protestors took to the streets once again demanding him to step down. Wickremesinghe has also ordered the security forces to arrest people acting in a riotous manner and impound the lorries they are travelling in.

More than 40,000 protestors from all over the island converged in capital Colombo, surrounding his office and private home, which they partially burnt down on Saturday. As military helicopters flew overhead the prime minister’s residence, protestors demanded Wickremesinghe to hand in his resignation and not to take the post of acting president on Wednesday as per the constitution.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa informed the Speaker of Parliament on Wednesday afternoon that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been appointed as the acting President of Sri Lanka. Making a special statement to the media today, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abywardena said that the President has appointed Wickremesinghe to act on his behalf "as he is out of the country", sparking angry protests across the capital city.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country on Wednesday morning landing in Maldives, after his office confirmed he had handed in his letter of resignation that will be read out by the Parliament Speaker on Wednesday. Sri Lankans have been clamouring for President Rajapaksa and his family to step down from power, blaming their widespread corruption for the current economic crisis in the debt-ridden nation.

Constitutionally the Prime Minister will automatically serve as acting president after the resignation of the president, and he will appoint an acting prime minister until the parliament elects a president on July 20. However, protestors who believe Wickremesinghe has been aiding, abetting and protecting the Rajapaksas demand that he quits immediately.

“We all know he (Wickremesinghe) is playing a double game, and it’s enough. We won’t stop until he steps down,” said Pradeep Kumara, one of the protestors outside the prime minister’s office.

The state run television channel Rupawahini has just been taken over by protesters.

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