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PoliticsSri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Parliament sets date to choose new president

July 11, 2022

Lawmakers are set to pick a new president on July 20 after Gotabaya Rajapaksa agreed to step down. A financial and economic crisis have thrown the country into political turmoil.

Protesters outside the presidential palace in Colombo on July 11
Monthlong protests culminated in the storming of the presidential compound which forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to fleeImage: Eranga Jayawardena/AP Photo/picture alliance

Sri Lanka's parliament will reconvene on Friday after largescale protests forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee his residence and eventually agree to resign, government spokesperson Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said on Monday.

The 225 members of parliament will convene on Friday with plans for lawmakers to put forward nominations to replace Rajapaksa as the president who has said he will step down on Wednesday.

The vote for the position of president will take place on the following Wednesday, July 20, according to the official.

"During the party leaders' meeting held today, it was agreed that this was essential to ensure a new all-party government is in place in accordance with the Constitution and to take forward essential services," Abeywardena said.

Protesters keep up the pressure

The prime minister's office said on Monday that the entire cabinet will also step down to make way for a unity government once the opposition parties have come to an agreement on a possible coalition.

Talks between the various opposition parties began on Sunday following announcements from both the president and prime minister — Ranil Wickremesinghe — that they would resign. 

Oliver Mayer from the German television broadaster ARD on protesters in Sri Lanka's presidential palace

However, the prime minister, whose official residence was burned down by the protesters, said that he will stay on until a new government is in place.

"A government has to function according to the law. I am here to protect the constitution and through it fulfill the people's demands.
What we need today is an all-party government and we will take steps to establish that," he said on Monday.

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken over the presidential compound while some have stayed saying that they will not leave until Rajapaksa has finally left office. Security forces have not attempted to gain back control of the buildings, but say the situation is under control.

Protesters had been calling for the president to go for months in light of the worse economic crisis seen on the island of 22 million since it achieved independence from the British in 1948.

The crisis has seen shortages of fuel, medicine, and basic foods and led the government to declare bankruptcy and enter into negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout.

ab/fb (dpa, Reuters)

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