Sri Lanka: President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to step down on July 13

Colombo, July 10 (Representative) Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was forced to flee his official residence on Saturday to escape an angry mob of protesters to stormed in and occupied it has agreed to step down next week, parliamentary speaker Mahinda Abeywardana said.Abeywardana announced in a televised statement, that “To ensure a peaceful transition, the president said he will step down on July 13”.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 in the capital Colombo and occupied it to vent their anger over the country’s deepening economic crisis. Protesters later also broke into Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’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 too would resign in response to calls by political leaders for him and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to quit, after tens of thousands of people trooped into the capital to vent their fury over the nation’s economic and political crisis. But Wickremesinghe also made it clear that he will not step down before a new government is formed, angering crowds who then 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.