Sri Lanka: PM’s office confirms president will resign ‘as announced’

Colombo, July 11 (FN Agency) The Prime Minister’s office of Sri Lanka on Monday confirmed that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa informed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that he will resign ‘as previously announced,’ after tens of thousands of protestors stormed the official residences of both the leaders, Al Jazeera reported. After Saturday’s sweeping protests in the wake of a debilitating economic crisis, the speaker of parliament said Rajapaksa would resign on Wednesday. However, there has been no direct word from Rajapaksa about his plans to demit office. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had also said that he too would be stepping down to pave the way for an all-party interim government to take over. Party leaders have been holding intense discussion to form an alternative government, an urgent requirement of the bankrupt nation to continue discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout programme.

Wickremesinghe held a discussion with the Cabinet Ministers on Monday morning, the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement. Legislator Udaya Gammanpila said the main opposition United People’s Front and politicians who defected from Rajapaksa’s ruling coalition have also had discussions and agreed to work together. The names of main opposition leader Sajith Premadasa and Dullas Alahapperuma’s have been proposed for the President and Prime Minister, respectively. Premadasa and Alahapperuma have been requested to decide on how to share the positions before a meeting with the Parliament Speaker later on Monday, local media said. Constitutional experts said once the President and the Prime Minister formally resignes, the next step would be for the Speaker to be appointed as acting president and for Parliament to vote for a new President within 30 days to complete Rajapaksa’s term that was to end in 2024.