After fleeing to Singapore on Friday to avoid widespread protests sparked by the nation’s greatest economic crisis in seven decades, Sri Lanka’s parliament speaker accepted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation.
Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told reporters, “From this point, we shall seek to constitutionally appoint a new president.”
“It will occur swiftly and effectively. I ask everyone to support this effort.”
The process of choosing a new president, according to Abeywardena, should be finished in seven days. The parliament will meet again on Saturday. On Friday, a decision will be made regarding the meeting’s agenda.
Late on Thursday, Rajapaksa tendered his email resignation. According to a source with knowledge of the issue, Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives on Wednesday before continuing on to Singapore aboard a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight on Thursday.
Late on Thursday, the Maldives government announced that it had given diplomatic approval for a Sri Lanka Air Force aircraft to transport President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his spouse on a transit visit.
According to Singapore’s foreign ministry, Rajapaksa arrived on a private visit and did not apply for or receive shelter there.
More protests followed Rajapaksa’s decision on Wednesday to name his ally Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as interim president. Protesters stormed parliament and the prime minister’s office and demanded that he too step down.
AEM had reported that protests against the economic crisis have simmered for months and came to a head last weekend when hundreds of thousands of people took over government buildings in Colombo.
Sri Lanka had begun preliminary discussions with the International Monetary Fund about a potential bailout loan, but these have been interrupted by the latest chaos.
IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters on Thursday that Fund staff were still in contact with technical-level government officials and hoped to resume high-level dialogue “as soon as possible.”
The government imposed a curfew in Colombo from noon (0630 GMT) on Thursday to early morning on Friday in a bid to prevent further unrest.