Thousands of Protesters inspired by the three-month old ‘Aragalaya’ force President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to announce their resignations.

Dumbfounding constitutional pundits, the largely peaceful protestors in hundreds of thousands inspired by the three-month old ‘Aragalaya’ on Saturday forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to announce their resignations.

Defying shortage of fuel and public transport, anti-Rajapaksa people countrywide took to the street on Saturday and converged at GotaGoGama at Galle Face and Fort area and broke through barricades, withstood teargas and water cannon attacks and stormed the President’s House and Presidential Secretariat calling for his and interim-Government’s resignation over the failure to resolve the worst economic crisis in the country.

President Rajapaksa was not present in either of the locations and his whereabouts still remain a secret.

However, the besieged Gotabaya Rajapaksa conveyed to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena that he will step down as President on Wednesday whilst people questioned the reasons for dating his exit instead of making it immediate or in a day.
However, the announcement also followed all party leaders at a late evening meeting on Saturday requesting Rajapaksa to resign immediately.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe too told the party leaders that he was willing to resign as well and make way for an all-party Government to take over.

The Prime Minister’s media office quoted Wickremesinghe as saying he is taking this decision in view of the fact that countrywide fuel distribution is due to recommence this week, the World Food Program Director is due to visit the country this week and the Debt Sustainability report for the IMF is due to be finalised shortly. So as to ensure safety of the citizens, he is agreeable to this recommendation by the Opposition Party Leaders.

The GotaGoGama activists on Saturday presented six urgent demands including the immediate resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and all in interim Government. The activists made a statement addressing the people and media from the President’s House, which saw large crowds for the second consecutive day yesterday.

The impending ouster of the President and Prime Minister and the interim-Government came as the anti-Rajapaksa people’s movement via GotaGoHome and GotaGoGama marked its three months.

The ‘Aragalaya’ drew much praise as well as criticism apart from many doubting its effectiveness. Constitutional experts insisted President Rajapaksa cannot be ousted whilst he himself refused to resign stating he does not want to do so as a “failed President” and assured relief and development before his tenure ends by late 2024.

Global leaders and local activists yesterday called for a swifter and smoother transition of power as political parties scrambled to reach consensus on the way forward.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka yesterday urged all parties to understand the urgency of the situation and that a prompt and smooth transition of power is necessary to ensure important decisions relating to the economy and other areas are addressed. BASL also insisted the President’s resignation must not be delayed.

Several private sector associations also called for a smoother and faster transition urging all political parties to put national interest first and work together to bring immediate relief to people and ensure good governance.

Courtesy:Daily FT