By Chandani Kirinde
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was forced out of office by waves of public protests, sent in his registration letter from Singapore yesterday bringing to an end nearly three years of rudderless and chaotic rule.
The President, who fled the country on Wednesday, emailed his resignation letter via the Sri Lanka High Commission in Singapore last night to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena. Rajapaksa did so after arriving in Singapore via a Saudi Air flight from the Maldives where he spent a day after being flown in by an Air Force military plane in the early hours of Wednesday.
Rajapaksa was allowed to enter Singapore on the basis of a private visit and has not been granted asylum, the city-State said, after the leader arrived from the Maldives.
“It is confirmed that Rajapaksa has been allowed entry into Singapore on a private visit,” Singapore’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “He has not asked for asylum and neither has he been granted any asylum. Singapore generally does not grant requests for asylum.” There was speculation that Rajapaksa is planning to travel to another country from Singapore.
Speaker Abeywardena said last night he will formally announce that Rajapaksa has vacated the post of President to the public today in keeping with the relevant constitutional provisions after verifying the authenticity of the letter, the Speaker’s office said last night. The Attorney General (AG) was consulted last night by the Speaker’s office in this connection,” the Daily FT learns. Originally Rajapaksa said he will tender his resignation on Wednesday 13 July.
The President was forced out of office just two years and eight months into his five-year term, making him the first President to resign from his post. It is a humiliating exit for a man who was elected by a landslide in the Presidential poll held in November 2019 on the back of the promise of efficient and clean administration.
The office of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is the Acting President, could not confirm if he will take oath today as interim President pending the vote in Parliament to select a successor to Rajapaksa.
A spokesperson for the office said they are waiting to get confirmation regarding the resignation letter.
The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) announced yesterday that it will not field a candidate to contest for the Presidency when the Parliament meets to elect a new President.
The party said that it was bowing to the public demand for a change in a SLPP-led administration and has hence taken this decision.
Party leaders had earlier agreed to hold the election to elect a new President for 20 July but this may be delayed as an earlier decision for Parliament to meet today has been postponed. The House will now meet on Tuesday as scheduled when the Speaker will inform the House that a vacancy has occurred in the post of President and fix a date to call for nomination.
In a related development representatives of several parties including the SJB, SLFP, the independent group within the SLPP, TNA that met yesterday decided to inform the Speaker that they will nominate Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa for the post of Prime Minister of the all-party Government that is being mooted to overcome the economic crises facing the country. The JVP did not attend the meeting.