Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has informed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that he will resign “as previously announced”, the prime minister’s office has confirmed, after tens of thousands of protesters stormed the official residences of both the leaders.
After Saturday’s massive 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 regarding the matter.
Wickremesinghe has said he would also step down to allow an all-party interim government to succeed. Party leaders have been holding 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 issuing a statement. “All the ministers who participated in the discussion were of the opinion that as soon as there is an agreement to form an all-party government, they are ready to hand over their responsibilities to that government,” reads the statement. Legislator Udaya Gammanpila said the main opposition United People’s Front and politicians who defected Rajapaksa’s ruling coalition have also had discussions and agreed to work together.
Main opposition leader Sajith Premadasa and Dullas Alahapperuma, who was a minister under Rajapaksa, have been proposed for president and prime minister, respectively, according an international news agency. Premadasa and Alahapperuma have been requested to decide on how to share the positions before a meeting with the parliament speaker later on Monday, the AP said. “We can’t be in an anarchical condition. We have to somehow reach a consensus today,” Gammanpila said on Monday. Constitutional experts say once the president and the prime minister formally resign, 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 would end in 2024.