Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister sworn in as interim president after the resignation letter was accepted World news

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn in as the country’s interim president until parliament elects a successor to Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The country’s president accepted Mr Rajapaksa’s farewell letter, which was flown from Singapore late Thursday.

It follows months of protests triggered by anger over an economic crisis in the country.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said a new president would be appointed “quickly and successfully” – with the process set to be completed within seven days.

Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka on Wednesday protesters storm the president’s home and the Prime Minister’s official residence.

He had in the beginning fled to the Maldives on a military plane along with his wife and two security guards, but later traveled on to Singapore.

Sri Lankan celebrates

There were jubilant scenes in the capital Colombo after Mr Rajapaksa’s resignation was confirmed – with crowds setting off fireworks and dancing in the streets.

Next president to sit the rest of the term

Acting resident Ranil Wickremesin has been sworn in.  Photo: PM Media
Acting President Ranil Wickremesin has been sworn in. Photo: PM Media

The new presidential election will serve the remainder of Rajapaksa’s term, which ends in 2024.

That person could potentially appoint a new prime minister, who would then have to be approved by parliament.

The agenda for the weekend meeting will be decided on Friday, and the vote on the next president of the parliament was scheduled for 20 July.

Crisis triggered by shortage

Street protests against Sri Lanka’s 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, accusing the Rajapaksa family and allies of runaway inflation, lack of basic goods and corruption.

The family has denied the allegations of corruption, but Mr Rajapaksa acknowledged that some of his policies contributed to the meltdown.

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The rapid economic downturn has been all the more shocking because the economy before this crisis had expanded with a growing, comfortable middle class.

Sri Lanka had initiated initial discussions with the International Monetary Fund on a potential rescue loan, but these have been interrupted by the recent government chaos.

Rajapaksa was part of one of Sri Lanka’s most powerful political families in the country’s history after independence.

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