Widespread Celebrations in Sri Lanka as Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announces Official Resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa;Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Sworn in as Acting President Until Parliament Elects a new President Next Week


Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has officially resigned, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced Friday morning, ending days of uncertainty since the widely despised leader fled the island, dislodged by monumental public protests over a grave economic crisis.

Mr. Gotabaya, currently in Singapore, had sent his resignation letter by email on Thursday, but the Speaker’s office said its authenticity and legality had to be verified before it could be accepted. Tens of thousands of demonstrators stormed the President’s office and home last weekend, forcing the President to flee for his life, first to the Maldives and later to Singapore.

Public fury against Mr. Gotabaya and his family members, who held prominent positions of power in the government, surged this year, as citizens suffocated amid crippling shortages and soaring living costs that, they said, his government failed to address.
New president to be elected through Parliament
Mr. Gotabaya’s resignation makes way for a new President, to be elected through Parliament. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as acting President before the Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya.

A three-way contest seems likely among Mr. Wickremesinghe, former Rajapaksa loyalist Dullas Alahapperuma, and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa for Presidency. The Parliament must convene within three days after the President’s resignation, schedule nominations, and subsequently elect a new President through secret ballot.

Sri Lanka’s political opposition earlier slammed the delay in the President’s resignation. Opposition lawmaker and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Leader Rauff Hakeem said: “Someone who came to power on a platform of national security has fled the country for his own security, fearing his own people. This fate would not have befallen him if he had had the foresight to quit at the right time. He has disgraced himself and brought disgrace upon the whole nation.”

Further, he said it was “distressing” that Mr. Gotabaya handed the reins to “another person despised by the people,” referring to Mr. Wickremesinghe. “He is oblivious to ground realities… he too will be disgraced in the immediate future.”

Colombo legislator and Tamil Progressive Alliance Leader Mano Ganesan said the Speaker must “immediately act” on the President’s letter and set off the constitutional process to elect a new President.

Courtesy:The Hindu