West News Wire: On the day that protesters stormed the president’s home and office in a fury over a worsening economic crisis, party leaders in Parliament demanded that both the prime minister and the embattled president resign. On Saturday, the prime minister of Sri Lanka agreed to do so.

Dinouk Colambage, the prime minister’s spokesman, reported that Ranil Wickremesinghe informed party leaders that he will step down once all parties have reached an agreement on a new government.

His choice came after the largest protest to hit Sri Lanka, in which tens of thousands of people broke through barriers and stormed the home and office of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to express their rage against a figure they blame for the country’s worst crisis.

Rajapaksa appointed Wickremesinghe as prime minister in May in the hope that the career politician would use his diplomacy and contacts to resuscitate a collapsed economy. But people’s patience wore thin as shortages of fuel, medicine and cooking gas only increased and oil reserves ran dry.

Many protesters accuse Wickremesinghe of trying to save Rajapaksa when he came under pressure to resign, as every other member of his powerful political dynasty had quit the Cabinet.

Opposition parties in Parliament were currently in discussion about forming an all-party government.

It was not clear if Rajapaksa was inside his residence when it was stormed earlier Saturday. A government spokesman, Mohan Samaranayake, said he had no information about Rajapaksa’s whereabouts.

Leaders of political parties in Parliament met later and decided to request Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe to step down, opposition lawmaker Rauff Hakeem said on Twitter. He said a consensus was reached that the parliamentary speaker should take over as temporary president and work on an interim government.

Read More
Five people including MP killed in Sri Lanka as conflict worsens

Sri Lanka’s economy is in a state of collapse, muddling through with aid from India and other countries as its leaders try to negotiate a bailout with the International Monetary Fund. The economic meltdown has led to severe shortages of essential items, leaving people struggling to buy food, fuel and other necessities.

Thousands of protesters entered the capital from the suburbs after police lifted an overnight curfew. With fuel supplies scarce, many crowded onto buses and trains to come to the city to protest, while others made their way on bicycles and on foot.

Protest and religious leaders called on Rajapaksa to step down, saying he has lost the people’s mandate.

“His claim that he was voted in by the Sinhala Buddhists is not valid now,” said Ven. Omalpe Sobitha, a prominent Buddhist leader. He urged Parliament to convene immediately to select an interim president but said that Wickremesinghe did not enjoy the people’s support.

Last month, Wickremesinghe said the country’s economy has collapsed. He said that the negotiations with the IMF have been complex because Sri Lanka was now a bankrupt state.

In April, Sri Lanka announced it is suspending repaying foreign loans due to a foreign currency shortage. Its total foreign debt amounts to $51 billion of which it must repay $28 billion by the end of 2027.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here