Sri Lankan President flies to Singapore
By Vatican News staff reporter
Political chaos continues in Sri Lanka after the country’s president Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled on Wednesday to the Maldives, and is now en route to Singapore.
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is now Acting President and has told the military to do "whatever is necessary to restore order" after protesters on Wednesday stormed his office in Colombo.
The decision to appoint Wickremesinghe as acting head of state has triggered more demonstrations, and protesters are also calling for his resignation.
Rajapaksa had repeatedly told the speaker of parliament that he would step down on Wednesday, but his resignation letter had not arrived as of Thursday.
Wickremesinghe has imposed a curfew in Colombo which is due to last until early morning on Friday in a bid to prevent further unrest.
Demonstrations against the economic crisis in Sri Lanka have been building for months, with people blaming Rajapaksa for runaway inflation, corruption, and a severe lack of fuel, medicines and basic goods.
Speaking during a televised address, Mr Wickremesinghe called on protesters to leave his occupied office and other state buildings and urged co-operation with authorities.
As the political instability continues, military troops moved in Thursday to secure Sri Lanka’s parliament building against a takeover by protesters.
Troops in green military uniforms and camouflage vests arrived by armored personnel carriers at the parliament building, anticipating more protests after a group attempted to storm the entrance the previous day, clashing with police who fended them off with tear gas and batons.
Both leaders said after the protests escalated over the weekend that they would resign, but Wickremesinghe said he will not leave until a new government is in place.
He has also asked the speaker of Parliament to find a new prime minister.
Sri Lankan lawmakers have agreed to elect a new president on July 20 who will serve the remainder of Rajapaksa’s term, which ends in 2024.