Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn in as the country’s interim president until parliament elects a successor to Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The speaker of the country’s parliament has accepted Mr Rajapaksa’s letter of resignation which was flown in from Singapore on Thursday evening.

This follows months of protests sparked by anger over an economic crisis in the country.

President Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said a new president would be appointed “quickly and successfully” – with the process to be completed within seven days.

Mr. Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka on Wednesday with protesters storm the president’s house and the Prime Minister’s official residence.

He had initially fled to the Maldives on a military plane with his wife and two security guards, but then traveled to Singapore.

There were jubilant scenes in the capital Colombo after Mr Rajapaksa’s resignation was confirmed – with crowds setting off firecrackers and dancing in the streets.

The next president for the remainder of the term

Acting Resident Ranil Wickremesin is sworn in.  Photo: PM Media
Image:
Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe is sworn in. Photo: PM Media

The new choice as president will serve the rest of Mr Rajapaksa’s term, which ends in 2024.

This person could potentially appoint a new Prime Minister, who would then have to be approved by Parliament.

The agenda for the weekend meeting will be decided on Friday, and the vote for the next president in parliament was scheduled for July 20.

Crisis triggered by shortages

Street protests against the economic crisis in Sri Lanka had been simmering for months and came to a head last weekend when
Hundreds of thousands of people took over government buildings in Colombo, blaming the Rajapaksa family and their allies for rampant inflation, commodity shortages and corruption.

The family denied allegations of corruption, but Mr Rajapaksa acknowledged that some of his policies contributed to the collapse.

Follow the daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Spreaker

The rapid economic decline was all the more shocking because before this crisis, the economy was booming, with a growing and comfortable middle class.

Sri Lanka had started preliminary talks with the International Monetary Fund over a possible bailout loan, but these were cut short by the latest government chaos.

Mr Rajapaksa was part of one of Sri Lanka’s most powerful political families in the country’s post-independence history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.