Sri Lanka's parliament to elect new president on July 20

Sri Lanka's parliament to elect new president on July 20

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa plans to resign on Wednesday amid protests

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AA) - Sri Lanka's parliament will convene on July 15 and a new president will be elected on July 20, as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa plans to resign on Wednesday amid protests.

This was decided during the ruling party leaders’ meeting held on Monday, an official told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is set to announce his resignation on July 13, paving the way for an interim administration, following ongoing protests that demand his resignation over failure to manage the Indian Ocean island's economic crisis.

In an unprecedented show of people's power, hundreds of thousands of anti-government protestors stormed into Rajapaksa's official residence and the presidential secretariat on July 9 and continue to occupy the buildings, demanding his resignation.

They also took control of Temple Trees, the prime minister's official residence.

Sri Lanka has been reeling under a balance of payment crisis and since March has failed to service its debt, forcing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to declare the country bankrupt on July 7.

During a meeting this morning, Wickremesinghe discussed the political future of the country with the Cabinet of ministers who offered to resign from their portfolios as required, in order to pave the way for an all-party interim administration.

Protesting groups have warned of a resumption of street protests and crippling the public service through a multi-sector countrywide strike action on Wednesday if the president does not voluntarily resign.

Protesters have also demanded the immediate resignation of Wickremesinghe, allowing the parliament to set up a caretaker administrator led by a parliamentarian who commands the support of the majority in the House.

Among the key demands is the immediate resignation of ministers, state ministers, and top heads of public institutions, a short-term relief program to restore normalcy, a new tax regime, promulgation of a new constitution that reflects the aspirations of the people, abolition of the executive presidency, wide democratic reforms and measures to recover alleged stolen assets.

Rajapaksa was elected with an unprecedented mandate to ensure national security and to move the island towards a path to prosperity though his two-year rule is now dubbed the weakest since political independence in 1948.

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