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President Rajapaksa Said He’ll Resign On Wednesday: Lankan PM’s Office

Colombo: 

Embattled Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has officially conveyed to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that he will resign on July 13 as previously announced, the Prime Minister’s office said on Monday, days after protesters barged into the leaders’ homes in rage over their mishandling of the country’s worst economic crisis.

Sri Lanka’s President Rajapaksa said he will resign on Wednesday after protesters on Saturday barged into his official residence, calling for him to step down over his handling of the country’s dire economic crisis.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe also said he was willing to resign and make way for an all-party government to take over. Protesters breached his private residence and set it on fire, according to his office.

“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has officially informed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that he will be resigning as previously announced,” a statement from the PM’s office said.

On Saturday, President Rajapaksa informed Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena from an undisclosed location that he will step down on Wednesday.

Opposition parties on Sunday held talks and decided to form an all-party interim government after President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe agreed to resign. Sri Lanka’s Opposition parties will resume talks on Monday to form an all-party interim government.

The appointment of a new president after Mr Rajapaksa leaves the presidency and the formation of a new government will be discussed at the meeting, the reports said.

The cash-starved island nation witnessed a tumultuous day on Saturday when protesters broke into Mr Rajapaksa’s official residence in Colombo. The protesters were seen in the bedrooms and splashing around in the swimming pool of the President’s House.

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Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials.

Tens of thousands have taken to the streets in recent months, calling for the country’s leaders to resign over accusations of economic mismanagement.

Schools have been suspended and fuel has been limited to essential services. Patients are unable to travel to hospitals due to the fuel shortage and food prices are soaring.

Trains have reduced in frequency, forcing travelers to squeeze into compartments and even sit precariously on top of them as they commute to work.

In several major cities, including Colombo, hundreds are forced to stand in line for hours to buy fuel, sometimes clashing with police and the military as they wait.

The country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026. Sri Lanka’s total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion.

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