Sri Lanka kicks off process to choose new president | News

The Sri Lankan parliament met on Saturday to start selecting a brand new chief to serve the remainder of the present time period after the president fled overseas and resigned following mass protests over the nation’s financial collapse.

Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena promised a swift and clear political course of that needs to be accomplished inside per week.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in on Friday as interim president till parliament elects a successor to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, whose time period ends in 2024.

Protesters within the crisis-hit island nation, nevertheless, insist the six-time prime minister too ought to step apart. The brand new president may appoint a legislator to switch Wickremesinghe.

Nominations for the presidential publish can be heard on Tuesday, the parliament’s secretary common Dhammika Dasanayake mentioned throughout a short session. If there may be multiple candidate for the president, the legislators will vote on Wednesday.

Interactive - Who is Gotabaya Rajapaksa?

Rajapaksa resignation letter

President Rajapaksa, 73, fled to the Maldives after which to Singapore this week to flee a well-liked rebellion towards his authorities.

Through the proceedings, Dasanayake additionally formally learn out Rajapaksa’s resignation letter, the contents of which haven’t beforehand been made public.

In his letter, Rajapaksa mentioned Sri Lanka’s monetary disaster was rooted in years of financial mismanagement that predated his presidency, together with the COVID-19 pandemic that drastically lowered Sri Lanka’s vacationer arrivals and remittances from international employees.

“It’s my private perception that I took all attainable steps to handle this disaster, together with inviting parliamentarians to type an all-party or unity authorities,” the letter mentioned.

The protesters accuse Rajapaksa and his highly effective political household of siphoning cash from authorities coffers and of hastening the nation’s collapse by mismanaging the financial system.

The household has denied the corruption allegations, however Rajapaksa acknowledged a few of his insurance policies contributed to Sri Lanka’s meltdown.

Heightened safety

Safety across the parliament constructing within the capital, Colombo, was elevated on Saturday with armed masked troopers on guard and roads close to the constructing closed to the general public.

Greater than 100 police and safety personnel with assault rifles have been deployed on the method street to parliament.

Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez, reporting from Colombo, mentioned law enforcement officials have been manning barricades and a water cannon to stop any unrest, although protesters had but to reach.

“The protesters appear to be adopting a wait-and-see method to marshal up their energies and assets, as a result of they are saying they’re in it for the lengthy haul,” Fernandez mentioned.

In a televised assertion on Friday, Wickremesinghe mentioned he would provoke steps to vary the structure to curb presidential powers and strengthen parliament, restore legislation and order, and take authorized motion towards “insurgents”.

It was unclear to whom he was referring, though he mentioned true protesters wouldn’t have gotten concerned in clashes on Wednesday night time when many troopers reportedly have been injured.

“There’s a large distinction between protesters and insurgents. We’ll take authorized motion towards the insurgents,” he mentioned.

The Sri Lankan navy warned on Thursday it had the powers to reply in case of chaos, in a message some discovered ominous.

Sri Lanka army soldiers stands guard near the parliament building in Colombo.
Safety was tightened in capital Colombo after protesters stormed the parliament constructing [File: AFP]

‘Elective dictatorship’

In the meantime, opposition presidential nominee Sajith Premadasa promised to “take heed to the individuals” and to carry Rajapaksa accountable if he wins.

In an interview with The Related Press, Premadasa mentioned he would be certain that “an elective dictatorship by no means, ever happens” in Sri Lanka.

“That’s what we should always do. That’s our operate – catching those that looted Sri Lanka. That needs to be accomplished by means of correct constitutional, authorized, democratic procedures,” he mentioned.

Sri Lanka has run wanting cash to pay for imports of fundamental requirements resembling meals, fertiliser, medication and gas for its 22 million individuals, with days-long gas queues changing into the norm.

International change reserves have dwindled to shut to zero and headline inflation hit 54.6 p.c final month.

Avenue protests over the financial meltdown simmered for months earlier than boiling over final week when tens of 1000’s of individuals occupied necessary authorities buildings, together with the official residence of the president.

Vitality minister Kanchana Wijesekera mentioned the primary of three gas shipments was obtained on Saturday – the primary cargo to achieve the nation in about three weeks.

A second diesel consignment can even arrive on Saturday, with a cargo of petrol due by Tuesday. “Funds accomplished for all 3,” the minister mentioned in a tweet.

Leave a Reply