Gotabaya set to resign on July 13

In remarkable scenes, hinting at a society in a meltdown, anti-government protesters were seen occupying a bedroom, sitting on a four poster bed, helping themselves to food in the kitchen and splashing in a swimming pool in Gotabaya’s residence.
Protesters celebrate after entering the Presidential Secretariat
Protesters celebrate after entering the Presidential Secretariat

COLOMBO: It was a day of total mayhem in Sri Lanka on Saturday as anti-government protesters stormed the residence of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, forcing him to flee the capital city and go underground.

In remarkable scenes, hinting at a society in a meltdown, anti-government protesters were seen occupying a bedroom, sitting on a four poster bed, helping themselves to food in the kitchen and splashing in a swimming pool in Gotabaya’s residence.

Protesters celebrate after entering the Presidential Secretariat
Protesters break into Sri Lankan PM residence, set it on fire

Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said late on Saturday night that the President would quit on July 13. President Rajapaksa informed the Speaker about this decision to quit after Abeywardena wrote to him seeking his resignation following the all-party meeting of leaders held Saturday evening.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had earlier called for an emergency meeting where he offered to resign and pave the way for an all-party government. The Prime Minister’s Media Division said that Wickremesinghe will resign after an all-party government is established and a majority is secured in Parliament. Wickremesinghe told Opposition party leaders that he was taking the decision to step down as the island-wide fuel distribution is due to recommence this week, the World Food Programme Director is due to visit the country this week and the debt sustainability report for the IMF is due to be finalised shortly.

The main Muslim party leader Raul Hakeem told reporters that party leaders wanted both President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to resign and Speaker Abeywardena to become acting president as per the Constitution. The Constitution stipulates under article 40C that the Prime Minister must act as the President until Parliament could appoint an acting president within one month of president vacating office. However, the Opposition is opposed to Wickremesinghe becoming interim president as he was not elected by the people.

Several injured, MP attacked

At least 45 people, including seven security personnel, were injured in clashes between security forces and the protesters who had gathered in large numbers in the Fort area, demanding President Rajapaksa’s resignation. In a viral video, SJB MP Rajitha Senaratne was seen being attacked by protesters. Former Sri Lankan cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya on Saturday hailed the mass protests against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, saying he has never seen the ‘’country united like this’’.

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