Sri Lanka’s parliament speaker says president Gotabaya Rajapaksa has resigned after fleeing the country.
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana said on Friday that the parliament will convene on Saturday to start the process of electing a new president. He expects to compete the process within seven days.
Mr Rajapaksa fled the country on Wednesday amid mounting protests for him to resign over an economic crisis. He had promised to resign by that evening.
His failure to make the self-imposed deadline confused and angered Sri Lankans. But protesters who had occupied government buildings retreated on Thursday, restoring a tenuous calm.
The protesters accuse Mr Rajapaksa and his powerful political family of siphoning money from government coffers for years and his administration of hastening the country’s collapse by mismanaging the economy.
The family has denied the corruption allegations, but Mr Rajapaksa acknowledged that some of his policies contributed to the meltdown.
Months of protests reached a frenzied peak over the weekend when demonstrators stormed the president’s home and office and the official residence of prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. On Wednesday, they seized Mr Wickremesinghe’s office.
The demonstrators initially vowed to hold those places until a new government was in place, but the movement shifted tactics on Thursday, apparently concerned that any escalation in violence could undermine their message following clashes the previous night outside the parliament that left dozens injured.
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