Rajapaksa's resignation accepted: Sri Lanka Speaker
The Sri Lankan parliamentary speaker announces he accepted the resignation of the President, paving the way for the premier to become acting president.
The resignation of Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been accepted, the country's parliamentary speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana announced Friday, after Rajapaksa fled the country earlier this week and notified him from Singapore that he was stepping down.
"Gotabaya has legally resigned" with effect from Thursday, Abeywardana told reporters.
"I have accepted the resignation," he confirmed.
Under Sri Lanka's constitution, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe - whose departure is also being demanded by protesters - will automatically become acting president until parliament can elect an MP to succeed Rajapaksa for the rest of his term.
The legislature will be summoned on Saturday, Abeywardana told reporters at his residence.
"I hope to complete the process of electing a new president within seven days," he expressed, adding, "I seek the cooperation of all concerned to complete the constitutional requirements."
First president to resign since country adopted presidential system
Rajapaksa resigned by email, Indunil Yapa, the speaker's spokesperson said hours after the now ex-President landed in Singapore following the protesters' storming of his palace over the weekend.
The resigned President fled to the Maldives on Wednesday and left there for Singapore a day later.
It is noteworthy that Rajapaksa is the first president to resign since Sri Lanka adopted a presidential system of government in 1978.
The Sri Lankan parliament will hold a presidential election on July 20 and appoint a caretaker government, which will remain in power until the next general election.
Rajapaksa in Singapore for a "private visit"
Rajapaksa, his wife Ioma, and their two bodyguards arrived in Singapore from Male on board a Saudia airline flight.
Singapore's Foreign Ministry confirmed that Rajapaksa had been allowed to enter the country for a "private visit", adding that "he has not asked for asylum and neither has he been granted any asylum."
According to Sri Lankan security forces, Rajapaksa is expected to stay in Singapore for some time, before potentially moving to the United Arab Emirates.
In addition, diplomatic sources said Rajapaksa's attempts to secure a visa to the United States had been turned down because he had renounced his US citizenship in 2019 before running for president.
Sri Lanka defaulted on its $51-billion foreign debt
Rajapaksa is accused of mismanaging the economy to a point where the country has run out of foreign exchange to finance even the most essential imports, leading to severe hardships for its 22 million people, with four out of five Sri Lankans skipping meals.
Sri Lanka defaulted on its $51-billion foreign debt in April and is in talks with the IMF for a possible bailout.
The island has nearly exhausted its already scarce supplies of petrol with the government ordering the closure of non-essential offices and schools to reduce commuting and save fuel.