Rajapaksa to quit office on July 13, says Speaker

Rajapaksa to quit office on July 13, says Speaker

Colombo: The anti-government protesters who forced the President and the Prime Minister in Sri Lanka said on Sunday that they would occupy the mansions of the two leaders until they quit the offices. “The president has to resign, the prime minister has to resign and the government has to go,” news agency Reuters quoted playwright Ruwanthie de Chickera as saying at a presser.

According to the parliamentary Speaker, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will step down on July 13, following violent protests that shook the capital on Saturday. Demonstrators stormed the president’s official residence and set fire to the prime minister’s home in Colombo. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also said he is willing to resign to make way for an all-party government, his office said in a statement on Saturday evening.

On Sunday, the Sri Lankan police arrested three people for setting Wickremesinghe’s private residence on fire during the Saturday violence. According to news reports quoted by PTI, protesters entered Wickremesinghe’s private residence at Cambridge Place and set it on fire, inflicting extensive damage to the property and to a luxury sedan.

After a massive public agitation, Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaska on Saturday informed the Speaker that he would resign from the Presidency on July 13.

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene announced that President Rajapaksa had informed him about his decision to resign. People set off fire-crackers as soon as the news broke.

Following a massive public march to Colombo on Saturday morning and forcible occupation of the President’s House, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe asked the Speaker to summon the leaders of all political parties and decide on the way to resolve the crisis.

A majority of party leaders had decided to remove the President and the Prime Minister and appoint a temporary President and all-party government for a specific period until a fresh election was held to form a government.
President Rajapaksa, who had not appeared publicly since Friday night, had announced he would agree to any decision taken by the party leaders. Following the all-party meeting, the Speaker had sent a letter to the President and the Prime Minister, urging them to step down for a peaceful transfer of power.

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Starting from March 31, when President Rajapaksa's private residence outside Colombo was surrounded by protesters who demand he step down amidst the growing financial crisis, protests continued throughout the island with one slogan "Gota go home".