“Gotabaya has legally resigned,” Mahinda Yapa Abiwardana told reporters one day after the resignation message was sent. via e-mail. “I accepted the resignation,” she added.
On Saturday the president fled his residence, attacked by protesters accusing him of mismanagement. in one moment in which the country is going through the most serious economic crisis in its history. Wednesday it was in able to travel to the Maldives and on Thursday boarded a Saudi Airlines plane for Singapore. He sent a text of his resignation from there.
Rajapaksa is the first president to step down since Sri Lanka adopted a presidential system in 1978.
In Colombo, despite the imposed curfew, a small crowd celebrated their resignation, some carrying the country’s flags while others danced and sang jubilantly in front of the Presidential Secretariat when the news was announced.
“It is a great victory”, said Harinda Fonseca, on the sidelines of her participation in the rally, but “it is only a first step”.
According to Sri Lanka’s constitution, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, also requested by the protesters, will automatically become interim president, so parliament can elect a deputy to hold the presidency for the remainder of Rajapaksa’s term.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing dozens of people leave the Prime Minister’s offices on Thursday as policemen entered. And he made patrols of armored vehicles in some neighborhoods.
“We will peacefully withdraw from the presidential palace, the presidential secretariat and the prime minister’s office immediately, but we will continue our struggle,” a spokeswoman for the protesters said earlier.
Hours earlier, the police had confronted the demonstrators who had tried to enter in Parliament.
On Wednesday, protesters stormed the prime minister’s residence after storming the presidential palace on Saturday.
About 85 people were injured in the clashes and one man was suffocated by tear gas.
Hundreds of thousands of people have visited the presidential palace since it opened to the public following the president’s escape on Saturday. But on Thursday afternoon the doors of the building were closed and armed men guarded them.
Insult and insult – The army and police received new orders Thursday to exert a strict crackdown on any act of violence and warned rioters that their members were “legitimately entitled to exercise their power”.
After a day of layover in the Maldives, Rajapaksa arrived in Singapore on Thursday with his wife Ayuma and two bodyguards on a Saudi Arabian Airlines commercial flight, escorted by her just minutes before take-off.
He had asked, according to i media Maldivians, to take a private plane, refusing to travel on a commercial flight with other passengers due to the hostile reception he received upon his arrival in the Maldives on Wednesday.
He was also mocked and insulted as he left Velana airport and a protest was held in the capital, Male, to demand that the Maldivian government not allow him to pass. in safety.
And i media in the Maldives confirmed that the president of Sri Lanka spent the night in the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Itafushi hotel.
Under the law, Rajapaksa cannot be arrested while he is still president, which could explain his desire to travel abroad before he resigns to avoid any possible arrest.
Former Maldivian President Muhammad Nasheed, who played a role in helping Rajapaksa escape, said he feared he would be killed if he stayed. in Sri Lanka.
According to diplomatic sources, the United States refused to grant him a visa because he renounced his American citizenship in 2019 before running for president. in Sri Lanka.
Singapore will not be the last destination. The city-state announced that Rajapaksa was in private visit and “did not ask for asylum”.
According to sources close to the Sri Lankan security services, the president is said to be trying to stay in Singapore for some time before heading to the United Arab Emirates.
“He destroyed our country with the Rajapaksa family, so we don’t trust him at all. We need a new government,” said Jehan Martin, 49, a merchant.