Ranil Wickremesinghe sworn in as Sri Lanka's interim president

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was on Friday sworn in as Sri Lanka's interim president until Parliament elects a successor to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who resigned after protests against his govt

Ranil Wickremesinghe sworn in as Sri Lanka's interim president
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PTI

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was on Friday sworn in as Sri Lanka's interim president until Parliament elects a successor to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who resigned after protests against his government for mishandling the economy that bankrupted the country.

Wickremesinghe, 73, was sworn in as the acting president of Sri Lanka before Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, the prime minister's office said in a statement.

Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena officially announced on Friday that Rajapaksa has resigned as president, two days after the embattled leader fled the country in the face of massive protests against his government for mishandling the economy that bankrupted the country.

Abeywardena told the party leaders that Parliament will meet on July 20 to elect a new president.

He said that nominations will be called for the post of President on July 19. The announcement of the vacancy in the office of President will be officially informed to the Parliament on Saturday.

The Speaker earlier said in terms of the Constitution, Wickremesinghe will function in the capacity of the President overseeing functions, duties, and powers of the office of the President until the constitutional procedure of electing the new President is over, the report added.

On Saturday, Rajapaksa announced that he will step down on July 13 after thousands of protesters stormed his official residence, blaming him for the unprecedented economic crisis that has brought the country to its knees.

He, however, fled to the Maldives without resigning from his office. From the Maldives, he went to Singapore on Thursday.

Rajapaksa was the first person with a military background to be elected as Sri Lanka's President in 2019.

The Speaker had received the resignation letter from Rajapaksa through the Sri Lanka High Commission in Singapore on Thursday night. However, he wanted to make the official announcement after the verification process and legal formalities, his media secretary Indunil Abeywardena had said.

Rajapaksa had announced to step down after thousands of protesters stormed his official residence, blaming him for the unprecedented economic crisis that has brought the country to its knees.

He, however, fled to the Maldives without resigning from his office. From the Maldives, he went to Singapore on Thursday.


A spokesperson for Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Rajapaksa has been "allowed entry into Singapore on a private visit".

He has not asked for asylum and neither has he been granted any asylum, the spokesperson said on Thursday, adding Singapore generally does not grant requests for asylum.

Rajapaksa was the first person with an Army background to be elected as Sri Lanka's President in 2019.

Under the Sri Lankan Constitution, if both the president and prime minister resign, the Speaker of parliament will serve as acting president for a maximum of 30 days from one of its members, who will hold the office for the remaining two years of the current term.

Rajapaksa, who had promised to resign on Wednesday instead appointed Prime Minister Wickremesinghe as the Acting President hours after he fled to the Maldives, escalating the political crisis and triggering a fresh wave of protests in the island nation.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe on Wednesday asked the Speaker to nominate a Prime Minister who is acceptable to both the Government and Opposition.

Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials.

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