Sri Lankans celebrate after President Rajapaksa resigns – but bigger problems lurk

The president’s resignation marks a major victory for the protesters, who for months have demanded the ouster of both Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Many in Sri Lanka blame Rajapaksa for the country’s deteriorating situation, where runaway inflation and lack of basic goods such as fuel and food affect everyday life.

But while Rajapaksa is now out of the picture, having landed in Singapore on Thursday, following a previous flight to the Maldives via military jet, his close political ally Wickremesinghe remains firmly in place – and was sworn in as acting president on Friday.

A senior government source told CNN that Rajapaksa appeared before the Sri Lankan High Commission in Singapore on Thursday to sign a physical letter of resignation in front of the High Commissioner.

The letter was then brought to Sri Lanka by plane and delivered in person to Sri Lanka’s parliamentary speaker, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardenena, who formally announced that Rajapaksa had withdrawn.

The information sheds new light on the several-hour delays between the news of Rajapaksa’s resignation, first sent via email to the speaker on Thursday, and the official confirmation from Abeywardenena on Friday.

The news sparked jubilant festivities in Colombo on Thursday night as crowds of jubilant protesters lit fireworks and fireworks. People from all walks of life, young and old, took to the streets for the festivities, which lasted well into the night.

Many of them on the street said they were overjoyed at the news after months of protests and financial difficulties. Rajapaksa’s departure represented a victory against government corruption and mismanagement, they said.

“We had one goal – to get rid of this absolutely corrupt regime,” said Dishan Seneviratne, 45. “I’m not someone who (usually) comes on the streets. But I came because I was afraid for my son’s future. .. (for) the next generation. We have fought for it. “

But others remained at odds with Wickremesinghe – also very unpopular and closely linked to Rajapaksa – now in office with the presidency.

Some protesters have said they plan to continue demonstrating until Wickremesinghe has also resigned – and both men will be held accountable for the country’s alleged economic mismanagement.

“We will continue to fight. We will fight until (Rajapaksa) is properly charged and until some action is taken … we fight as one nation until he is properly punished for whatever he has done,” Mariyan said. Malki. 29, who attended the celebration Thursday night.

Wickmenesinghe will remain acting president until parliament elects a new president, with lawmakers convened on Saturday to begin the process. A date has not yet been set for the vote, but according to the constitution, Wickremesinghe will only be allowed to hold office for a maximum of 30 days.

Once the new president is elected, he will serve for the remaining two years, which were originally set aside for Rajapaksa’s term.

Friday’s announcement marks the end of a chaotic week in which the future of Sri Lanka’s leadership has been thrown into uncertainty after Rajapaksa fled without formally resigning. For almost two days it was unclear whether he would agree to resign; what would happen if he refused to do so; and even his whereabouts at times. Tensions were high and authorities imposed curfews and fired tear gas to disperse protesters.

But even with Rajapaksa officially out of office and a new president soon to be elected, major problems are looming for the economically ravaged country as it struggles with its worst downturn in seven decades.

People are celebrating in Colombo, Sri Lanka when they hear about the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on July 14th.

The financial crisis

Virtually peaceful protests have escalated in Sri Lanka since March, when public anger erupted in the streets over rising food costs, fuel shortages and electricity cuts as the country struggled to pay back debt.

But public anger erupted last weekend as protesters occupied the homes of both Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe.

Sri Lanka is in chaos and its president has fled.  Here's what we know
Both leaders said shortly after that they would resign, with the expected layoffs on Wednesday. But Rajapaksa left the country that day on a flight before dawn without resigning, leaving Wickremesinghe at the helm.

Rajapaksa traveled to the Maldives – where the former president has long had ties to the Rajapaksa dynasty – but traveled just over 24 hours later and boarded a “Saudi plane” to Singapore on Thursday, according to a senior security source in Colombo.

Singapore said Rajapaska had been allowed to enter the country on a “private visit” but had not requested or been granted asylum.

Shortly after his arrival, Abeywardenena, the speaker of the parliament, announced that Rajapaksa had resigned.

People in Colombo, Sri Lanka, are celebrating when they hear about the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on July 14th.

But experts say there are still questions about Sri Lanka’s future. If anything, the political upheaval and lack of clarity are causing problems for the country’s economic recovery, said Ganeshan Wignaraja, senior researcher at the British think tank, ODI Global.

“What I am observing is that Sri Lanka is a messy democracy,” he said. “And in this context, today’s debates in Parliament have taken a little too long. And it shows the political dysfunctional nature of our politics today.”

“This political instability can really set the economy back,” he added. “It can scare investors away, it can scare tourists away, it can scare incoming money transfers and even aid away. I fear the economic crisis will take a long time to sort out and the people will suffer more unless Parliament pulls itself together. “

Leave a Comment