Sri Lanka Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced on Friday that he has accepted the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled the country due to protests.
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“I have accepted [prezidenta] resignation,” Abeywardena told reporters.
He added that he relieved Rajapaksa of his position as president on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Rajapaksa fled the country. He was flown to the Maldives by a Sri Lankan Air Force aircraft and from there proceeded to Singapore. He sent his resignation via email from Singapore.
It is thought that Rajapaksa did not resign as president while still in Sri Lanka because he feared he might be arrested. As president, he enjoyed legal immunity and could not be arrested.
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Rajapaksa was in Singapore on a private visit and had not applied for asylum.
Sources in Sri Lankan security structures have said that Rajapaksa could stay in Singapore for some time, and then go to the United Arab Emirates.
Until parliament elects a new president, according to the constitution, acting president will be Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose resignation is also demanded by the protesters.
Dissatisfaction with the government, protests and riots in Sri Lanka have been caused by the difficult economic situation.
Sri Lanka has been experiencing months of food and fuel shortages, long-term power outages and soaring inflation, with foreign reserves needed to import essential goods running out.
Protesters demanding the resignation of the head of state and prime minister stormed the president’s official residence and office on Saturday, but Rajapaksa managed to escape before the demonstrators arrived. Later, the protesters set fire to the Prime Minister’s private residence.
Rajapaksa left the country on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the protesters left the presidential palace, the chancellery and the prime minister’s office, but announced that they would continue their protests.