Sri Lanka Crisis: President Rajapaksa Announces His Resignation Following Civil Unrest

Sri Lanka Crisis: President Rajapaksa Announces His Resignation Following Civil Unrest
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa | Image source: Outlook India
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has confirmed that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will officially hand over his resignation on July 13.

While Sri Lanka continues to reel under chaos, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that the nation is indebted of $50 billion. Out of this, it needs to pay $28 billion by the year 2027. Amidst such conditions, the government is unable to supply its citizens with basic requirements, including fuel. The country has run out of its foreign reserves and further, the rise in fuel prices globally has made it next to impossible for the government to buy fuel from the global market.

On the other hand, the opposition in the Sri Lankan parliament has decided to form a new government following the exit of two top leaders. One of the Members of the Parliament from the opposition has indicated that they have the majority of members favouring them.

Agitated Protesters Capture Presidential Residence in Colombo

On Saturday, protesters in large numbers stormed into the presidential residence of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The subsequent images captured at the palace described the severity of people’s discontent with the government. The locals said that the protesters were agitated at the president for living a luxurious life, while his citizens are struggling for basic amenities. The protesters gushed in huge numbers and were also seen using the swimming pool in the palace.

Sri Lanka Crisis: President Rajapaksa Announces His Resignation Following Civil Unrest
Civilians in Sri Lanka demonstrated inside the premises of the President’s House in Colombo, on July 9 | Image source: Reuters

However, President Rajapaksa was relocated to a safe place on Friday, ahead of the planned rally. According to security officials, they tried to halt the mob with barricades to stop them from surrounding the palace, but the crowd was too huge to be contained. When they saw the angry mob rushing towards the main entrance and trying to breach the barricading, the police fired warning shots in the air. Nevertheless, they were unable to stop the agitated crowd.

In the videos that went viral from the presidential palace, civilians can be seen swimming in the pool, running in the corridors, marching through the rooms in the palaces, using the gym equipment, and so on. The crowd chanted slogans such as “Gota go home”, demonstrating severe resentment.

Noteworthy, the protesters did not damage any property in the presidential residence, nor did they indulge in any other kind of violence.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Agrees To Quit

Following the massive protest, the Sri Lankan president agreed to resign officially, informing the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe of the same. The prime minister informed the media that President Rajapaksa will hand over his resignation on Wednesday, July 13. Before this, we witnessed the resignation of his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa from the post of prime minister, when protesters stormed the PM office and started burning the residences of his fellow MPs. Later, Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new prime minister and Mahinda fled the country with his family.

Further, during a parliamentary session, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana asked the PM and president to resign from their respective posts to make way for an all-party interim government, as the raging protests and day-by-day deteriorating economy directed it to be the only way possible to make things better. PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has also offered to resign in order to form an interim government. After the resignation of PM Wickremesinghe, Speaker Abeywardana is likely to take charge as the acting prime minister.


Read more: Sri Lanka: Citizens Seek Refuge In Foreign Countries Amid Economic Crisis


Why Didn’t Gotabaya Cling To His Position?

After massive protests in the entire country for several months, the Rajapaksa clan finally decided to leave their positions. Although their voluntary resignation could indicate a possible comeback. 

During the time when Sri Lanka was watching the dense clouds of economic failure coming towards it, the Rajapaksas were confident enough in the possibility of restoring the country’s fiscal health. When the situation got more serious both brothers began conducting meetings with their officials. The foreign minister along with his diplomats started visiting country after country asking for bailouts. The situation worsened when Gotabaya himself became active on the diplomatic front. He met top diplomats from across the world and even held conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the phone.

Gotabaya could have contributed towards improving the situation by resigning from his post to make way for an interim government. An all-party government’s rule for a year could have brought in the international community’s confidence that the bailout amount will not be used entirely by the Rajapaksa clan.

Even before the incidents of July 9, Gotabaya attended the parliamentary session where the opposition MPs protested loudly against him. His move to resign could be for the sake of safeguarding his political career by presiding over the interim government as well, as the Rajapaksas would not be willing to put their ancestral political careers at stake.

However, they have already hurt the sentiments of common Sri Lankans. Although corruption was very normal in the nation, the Rajapaksas had the blood of innocent Tamilians on their hands, after they decided to crush the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at any cost. With the victory of the Sri Lankan army, Rajapaksas assumed full control on the country that lasted for ages, but the agitated civilians grew angrier when the prices started to rise like never before because of the worsening economy. The Rajapaksas still ignored the red flags of a diminishing economy, and continued heavy projects, spending millions of dollars on them.

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