HomeWorldSri Lankan president confirms plan to step down, PM's office says

Sri Lankan president confirms plan to step down, PM’s office says

Sri Lanka’s embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has not been seen or heard from publicly since protesters stormed his official residence this weekend, has reconfirmed his plan to resign, the country’s prime minister said on Monday.

The president told Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that he would resign, Wickremesinghe’s spokesman said. Rajapaksa’s resignation plan was first announced on Saturday by Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Speaker of Parliament.

Abeywardena, considered an ally of the president, said Rajapaksa had agreed to step down on Wednesday “to ensure a peaceful transition of power.”

Mr. Rajapaksa has not said so publicly and has been in hiding since thousands of Sri Lankans stormed his residence, repeating their months-long demands that he step down.

Later that day, Mr. Wickremesinghe said that he, too, would resign. But he has not elaborated on his plans. Protesters burned his house to the ground on Saturday.

The president’s silence has fueled questions about who leads the country of nearly 22 million people. It was also unclear what steps the next government might take immediately to restore a semblance of normalcy.

The island nation has been grappling with the worst economic crisis in its history, one that has led to food and medicine shortages and left the government essentially bankrupt. For months, daily life in Sri Lanka has been disrupted by fuel shortages that have made power cuts the norm and public transport almost non-existent.

Daily protests against Mr. Rajapaksa’s government have already led to the removal of other members of the family from the government. The president’s older brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, was succeeded by Wickremesinghe as prime minister in May.

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