Sri Lanka’s parliament announced it plans to hold presidential elections July 20 as its president and prime minister are expected to resign with protesters occupying their homes. Photo by Chamila Karunarthne/EPA-EFE
July 11 (BP) — Sri Lanka announced plans Tuesday to elect new government leaders as protesters have pledged to occupy the homes of its president and prime minister until they officially resign.
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced in a statement that parliament will be called into session on Friday with nominees selected by July 19 in advance of a vote for a new president on July 20.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced on Saturday that he and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe planned to step down amid protests over their handling of an economic crisis that left millions of residents struggling to afford essentials including food, medicine and fuel.
Rajapaksa is expected to resign on Wednesday and officially informed Wickremesinghe that he “will be resigning as previously announced” Monday morning. Wickremesinghe has not announced his departure date.
Opposition leaders met Sunday to discuss forming an all-party government after Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe resign with Abeywardena set to serve as president in the interim per Sri Lanka’s Constitution.
Wickremesinghe’s office announced Monday that he held a discussion with the cabinet in which all the ministers agreed to step down when the all-party government is formed.
Protesters, still skeptical that the president and prime minister will follow through with their plans to resign, stormed the luxury homes of the leaders over the weekend.
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered outside of Rajapaksa’s office and residence before breaking past security with photos showing demonstrators swimming in the president’s private pool and setting up barbecue pits to grill and cook food.
Sri Lankan Armed Forces placed Rajapaksa on a naval vessel, currently located at sea near Colombo in the nation’s territorial waters, before protesters made their way inside, CNN reported.
Wickremesinghe’s office also said that the prime minister was safe, without providing further details Monday.