Sri Lanka MPs to elect new president after Rajapaksa resigns

TEHRAN, Jul. 15 (MNA) – Sri Lanka’s Parliament speaker says President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has resigned and Parliament will convene to choose a new leader after massive protests took over government buildings to force him out of office.

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has officially resigned, the parliamentary speaker confirmed, after a dramatic week that saw the beleaguered leader flee the country after his presidential palace and offices were stormed by protesters, The Guardian reported.

The formal announcement of Rajapaksa’s resignation was made in a televised address by the speaker, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, on Friday morning.

Rajapaksa is currently in Singapore, where he fled to on Wednesday, via the Maldives. His resignation letter was sent late on Thursday night, first via email and then the original dispatched on a diplomatic flight, but the formal announcement was delayed until Friday while the speakers’ office verified the letter.

Rajapaksa’s decision to flee without resigning had left Sri Lanka in a state of political limbo for more than 36 hours, and tensions had run high in the country, which remained in a state of emergency.

Abeywardena confirmed that, according to the constitution, the prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, would be sworn in as an interim president on Friday and will hold the role until a new vote is held by MPs in parliament next week. The process of voting in and confirming a new president is likely to take seven days, said the speaker.

Abeywardena requested that all political party leaders “extend their support” for a smooth selection of a new president, and to “uphold democracy” during the transition.

Parliament will now reconvene on Saturday, to begin the process of installing a new all-party “unity” government, made up of a multitude of political parties. The opposition parties said they would meet this morning and put forward a new name for prime minister, likely to be Sajith Premadasa, leader of the largest opposition party.

RHM/PR

News Code 189088

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