Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned on Thursday after fleeing to Singapore, a few hours after protesters announced an end to the occupation of public buildings in Colombo, although they will keep up the pressure on power amid a serious economic crisis. and politics.
The official announcement of his resignation –which is expected for Friday– only will occur after an examination of the “authenticity and legality” of the letter sent by email to the speaker of parliament, parliamentary spokesman Indunil Yapadu told AFP.
Rajapaksa, 73, had given himself until Wednesday to resign from office. If his resignation is accepted, he would become the first Sri Lankan president to do so since the presidential system of government was adopted in 1978.
The president landed in Singapore aboard a plane from the Saudi company Saudia, coming from Maldives, where he had fled the day before.
Rajapaksa entered “on a private visit” but “did not ask for asylum and it was not granted to him”Singapore’s foreign ministry said in a statement, recalling that the country “generally does not accept asylum claims.”
As president, he enjoys immunity and cannot be arrested.
In Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, protesters left several state buildings that they had been occupying for several days, after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe ordered security forces to restore order and declared a state of emergency.
We will continue our fight
“We are peacefully withdrawing from the Presidential Palace, the presidential secretariat and the prime minister’s office with immediate effect, but we will continue our fight,” a spokeswoman for the protesters said.
Witnesses saw dozens of activists leaving the prime minister’s office, as police and security forces entered the building.
Armed agents patrolled parts of the city, under curfew, although some people celebrated the president’s resignation.
“It’s a monumental victory,” exclaimed Harinda Fonseka, one of the protesters. “But this is only the first step,” he added.
According to security sources, Rajapaksa, who traveled with his wife Ioma and two bodyguards, will stay in Singapore for some time before heading to the United Arab Emirates.
Sri Lanka, located south of India, suffers from shortages of essential products due to the lack of foreign exchange for imports and the protesters believe that the crisis is due to mismanagement by Rajapaksa.
After months of protestsprotesters invaded the president’s official residence on Saturday and later They took the prime minister’s office.
Since the president’s flight, the complex was opened to the public and thousands of people visited the building.
At the scene, Gihan Martyn, a 49-year-old shop owner, accused the president of “playing for time.”
“He’s a coward,” he said. “He ruined our country together with the Rajapaksa family. So we don’t trust him and we need a new government.”
Police reported that a soldier and an officer were injured in clashes overnight outside Parliament.
Colombo’s main hospital said 85 people were admitted with injuries on Wednesday and one man suffocated to death after inhaling tear gas at the prime minister’s office.
The army and the police received new orders on Thursday to crack down firmly on any kind of violence.
But Chirath Chathuranga Jayalath, a 26-year-old student, is not afraid: “You cannot stop these demonstrations by killing people. They’ll shoot us in the head, but we do this with our hearts“, he assured.
Local Maldivian media reported that The president was greeted with hostility by passengers at the airport when he arrived on Wednesday.
It was booed and insulted at Velana International Airport and a group organized a demonstration to ask the Maldivian authorities not to allow their presence.
The archipelago media reported that he spent the night at the Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi, an ultra-luxury hotel in this exclusive tourist destination.
This opulence contrasts with the harsh crisis that his compatriots are experiencing at a time when four out of five people in the country must skip a meal due to the economic situation.
The country declared a moratorium on debt of 51,000 million dollars in April and is in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.
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