Sri Lanka President Rajapaksa Resigns After Fleeing to Singapore

Sri Lanka President Rajapaksa Resigns After Fleeing to Singapore (News Central TV)

President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned Thursday from his sudden exile, parliament speaker said, hours after fleeing to Singapore following mass protests over an economic crisis.

Rajapaksa was forced out by a civilian revolt over the island nation’s economic collapse, the 73-year-old Rajapaksa had left Sri Lanka before dawn Wednesday to escape public rage over an economy in free fall.

After weeks of turbulence and the looming political chaos, he escaped the county, first to Maldives and then missing his self-declared deadline for stepping down.

The delay helped him escape while still under presidential immunity, but his manoeuvre sparked fresh protests in which one person died. His ouster now sets off a full leadership battle.

Months of protests reached a wild crescendo over the weekend when protesters stormed the president’s home and office and the official residence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. On Wednesday, they seized Wickremesinghe’s office.

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Images of demonstrators inside the buildings lounging on sofas and beds; swimming in the pool, posing at officials’ desks and touring the opulent settings soon went viral on social media.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

“The speaker has received a letter of resignation from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa via the Sri Lankan High Commission in Singapore,” a statement from Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena’s office said late Thursday local time. The statement, issued hours after Rajapaksa landed in Singapore, said a formal announcement will be made Friday after the letter is attested.

At the moment, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is running the country as acting president. Many demonstrators remained defiant and waited to get a formal address by the President, they said their movement was now about overhauling the system and that substituting a person was not enough. “We will have to do this tenfold to send Wickremesinghe home,” University student Sandun Ravihara said. “He is also a symbol of everything Gota stood for.”

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Rajapaksa’s exit brings an end to the famed Rajapaksa dynasty that has controlled Sri Lankan politics for decades. Many hold the Rajapaksa family, which until recently also held the positions of prime minister and finance minister, answerable for the economic mismanagement that has brought the country to economic collapse.

The crisis has left Sri Lanka unable to repay its foreign debt and with little money to import much-needed fuel and food. Fuel is in dangerously short supply and prices for essential items like rice have doubled from a year ago.

The deposed president was allowed into Singapore on a private visit, a spokesperson for Singapore’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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