Sri Lanka’s president confirms his resignation

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa confirmed early Monday to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that he will tender his resignation, as he had previously announced.

Rajapaksa is scheduled to officially resign this Wednesday, which would allow Wickremesinghe or a new leader to be sworn in. For the time being, the prime minister has secured the support of 115 members of Parliament for him to assume the presidency, at a time when negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are ongoing.

If Wickremesinghe remains in office, he will be sworn in as prime minister this Wednesday pending presidential and parliamentary elections, which should be held no later than March 2023.

At the moment it is not known who would be Wickremesinghe’s candidate for prime minister, although it is not ruled out that he would emerge from the consensus of the Parliament, whose head, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, could also be sworn in as president for a period of 30 days — while the Assembly elects a new one –, if Wickremesinghe decides not to assume the head of state.

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Later Monday Wickremesinghe is scheduled to meet with his cabinet before he holds a meeting with opposition leaders. Both meetings could be attended by videoconference by the still President Rajapaksa, whose whereabouts are unknown.

On the other hand, the last resignations presented by several cabinet ministers have not been accepted so they will have to attend the meeting that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe is scheduled to preside this Monday. These are the cases of Harin Fernando (Tourism), Manusha Nanayakkara (Labor), Dhammika Perera (Investment) and Bandula Gunawardena (Trade).

Rajapaksa thus gives in after several months of protests over rising prices and lack of food, medicine and fuel, which has put the small island facing its worst economic crisis since it gained independence from the British colonial yoke.

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The popular revolution that has broken out this Saturday has thus forced the definitive fall of the Rajapaksa family, after Gotabaya forced his brother Mahinda to leave office in a superfluous attempt to placate the protests.

Mahinda’s successor, Ranil Wickremesinghe, former rival of Rajapaksa and last option of the president to solve the crisis, resigned hours earlier to give way to a concentration government whose main function will be to call new elections.

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