Sri Lanka's president to step down on July 13

The announcement came hours after protesters stormed the president’s official residence



Demonstrators protest near President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's residence demanding his resignation. — Reuters
Demonstrators protest near President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's residence demanding his resignation. — Reuters

By Agencies

Published: Sat 9 Jul 2022, 9:29 PM

Last updated: Sun 10 Jul 2022, 2:26 PM

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled his official residence on Saturday to escape an angry mob of protesters, has agreed to step down next week, parliamentary speaker Mahinda Abeywardana said.

“To ensure a peaceful transition, the president said he will step down on July 13,” Abeywardana said in a televised statement.

However Rajapaksa will remain as president until Wednesday to ensure a smooth transfer of power, Abeywardena added.

The announcement came hours after protesters stormed the president’s official residence to vent their anger over the country’s severe economic crisis. Protesters also broke into the prime minister’s private residence and set it on fire.

The office of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the protesters forced their way into his Colombo home in the evening. It wasn’t immediately clear if he was inside at the time.

Wickremesinghe announced earlier that he would resign in response to calls by political leaders for him and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to quit, after tens of thousands of people trooped to the capital to vent their fury over the nation’s economic and political crisis.

“Today in this country we have a fuel crisis, a food shortage, we have the head of the World Food Program coming here and we have several matters to discuss with the IMF. Therefore, if this government leaves there should be another government,” Wickremesinghe said.

But he made it clear he will not step down before a new government is formed, angering crowds that moved near his home to demand his immediate departure.

Wickremesinghe said he suggested to the president to have an all-party government, but didn’t say anything about Rajapaksa’s whereabouts. Opposition parties in Parliament were discussing the formation of a new government.

Rajapaksa appointed Wickremesinghe as prime minister in May in the hope that the career politician would use his diplomacy and contacts to resuscitate a collapsed economy. But people’s patience wore thin as shortages of fuel, medicine and cooking gas only increased and oil reserves ran dry.

Many protesters accuse Wickremesinghe of trying to save Rajapaksa when he came under pressure to resign and every other member of his powerful political dynasty quit the Cabinet.


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