Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned by email on Thursday evening after fleeing to Singapore via the Maldives amid violent protests triggered by the nation’s economic crisis.
Whether an emailed resignation is legal is being considered, according to a statement by the speaker of the country’s parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardenena, CNN reported.
After suffering from crippling shortages of petrol and diesel and runaway prices of basic items like vegetables and bread for months, Sri Lankans are now waiting for lawmakers to elect a new president on Wednesday.
Until then, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will be the interim president although protesters want him gone too. His private residence was set ablaze by protesters last weekend and his office stormed this week.
“From this point, we will move to constitutionally appoint a new president,” Abeywardena told reporters after receiving Rajapaksa’s resignation. “It will happen quickly and successfully. I request everyone to support this process.”
Rajapaksa landed in Singapore on Thursday, having fled to the Maldives early on Wednesday on a military jet along with his wife and two security guards. Protesters occupied his home and office last weekend after surging past armed guards.
“We are so happy today that he resigned and we feel that when we, the people, come together, we can do everything,” said Arunanandan, 34, a school teacher who had been camping at the main protest site opposite the presidential secretariat for the past three months. “We are the real power in this country.”
Speaker Abeywardena said he hoped to complete the process of selecting a new president in seven days and that parliament will reconvene on Saturday, when lawmakers would be formally told about the vacancy at the top. Parliament will vote for a new president on July 20.
- Alfie Habershon, Reuters