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Sri Lanka Parliament to elect new president in 7 days: Speaker

Sri Lanka Parliament to elect new president in 7 days: Speaker

Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeyweardana today announced Gotabaya Rajapaksa's resignation and added that the new President will be elected within seven days as per provisions of the Constitution.

"Gotabaya has legally resigned" with effect from Thursday, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana told reporters, after Rajapaksa notified the speaker from Singapore he was stepping down. An all-party meeting is now underway at the parliament.

Sri Lankans had been waiting for a formal announcement confirming the president had resigned after he fled to Singapore to escape anti-government protests triggered by his country's dire economic crisis.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa submitted his resignation late Thursday after arriving in Singapore from the Maldives, where he initially escaped after demonstrators overran his palace at the weekend.

Rajapaksa's departure came after months of protests over what critics said was his mismanagement of the island nation's economy, leading to severe hardships for its 22 million people.

He is the first president to resign since Sri Lanka adopted a presidential system of government in 1978.

Singapore's foreign ministry said Rajapaksa had entered the country on a private visit, and had not sought or been granted asylum.

Rajapaksa's decision on Wednesday to make his ally Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe the acting president triggered more protests, with demonstrators storming parliament and the premier's office demanding that he quit too.

The government imposed a curfew in Colombo from noon on Thursday to early morning on Friday in a bid to prevent further unrest. Local media showed armoured vehicles with soldiers atop patrolling the city's streets.

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, blaming the Rajapaksa family and allies for runaway inflation, shortages of basic goods, and corruption.

Sri Lanka had begun preliminary discussions with the International Monetary Fund about a potential bailout loan, but these have been interrupted by the latest government chaos.

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TAGS:SrilankaGotabaya Rajapaksa
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