Sri Lanka's parliament will elect a new President next week following the acceptance of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's resignation by the Speaker after the leader fled the country earlier this week.
"Gotabaya has legally resigned" with effect yesterday, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana told reporters, after Rajapaksa notified the speaker from Singapore he was stepping down.
Rajapaksa submitted his resignation late yesterday after arriving in Singapore from the Maldives, where he initially escaped after demonstrators overran his palace at the weekend. Singapore's foreign ministry said Rajapaksa had entered the country on a private visit, and had not sought or been granted asylum.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn in as acting president. Celebrations broke out across the country yesterday evening when Gotabaya, who was blamed for his economic mismanagement, decided to officially put in his resignation.
Sri Lanka has been facing increasingly violent protests against the Rajapaksa government’s mishandling of the economy that has left the nation heavily in debt. Protests came to a head last weekend when hundreds of thousands of people took over government buildings in Colombo, including the official Presidential residence, blaming the Rajapaksa family and allies for runaway inflation, shortages of basic goods, and corruption.