Uncertainty continues after the Sri Lankan President offered to step down

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s political parties met Sunday morning, facing intense pressure to quickly form an interim government after the country’s president and prime minister agreed to step down following fierce anti-government protests.

No new protests were reported in Colombo, but people overtook the president’s residence, which had been seized by protesters the day before, picnicking in the gardens and swimming in the pool.

Nuan Bobage, a volunteer associated with the protest movement, told The Washington Post that the protesters would occupy their homes until the two leaders formally resigned.

Tens of thousands of people flooded the streets of Colombo this weekend. Decline.

on Saturday, Enraged people besieged the presidential residence and office, drowned in a swimming pool and sat on Rajapaksa’s bed to celebrate the victory. During the night, Rajapakse announced his resignation to the Speaker of Parliament on July 13. He left his home a day before the protests and his whereabouts are unknown.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also offered to resign to quell the growing unrest, but his offer did not appease angry protesters who set fire to his house.

The resignation announcements marked a major victory for the opposition, but plunged the island nation into political turmoil over what would happen next.

Sri Lanka’s president will step down next week after protesters besieged his home, the Speaker of Parliament has said

“This is a failed president and a failed government,” said Baisar Mustafa, an opposition member formerly allied with Rajapakse.

He said the long-standing people of the country have taken control. “It was the strength of the people who were on the show,” he said.

“This is a historic moment,” said Harini Amarasuriya, an opposition member of parliament, “when a real citizen’s struggle ended the rule of an unpopular and untrustworthy government.”

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At an all-party meeting held on Saturday night, Lawmakers decided to form a caretaker government until the elections are over. Discussions are taking place regarding the appointment of a Prime Minister before the President steps down next Wednesday.

“We can now move on to a long-term path that is more acceptable to the country and the international community,” said Eran Wickramaratne, the leader of the main opposition party.

Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken said that the United States is closely monitoring the developments in Sri Lanka Reporters In Thailand on Sunday, it urged the country’s political leaders to quickly “identify and implement” solutions to ensure long-term economic stability and address popular discontent.

Blinken said the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was felt everywhere and “contributed” to Sri Lanka’s crisis. The War in Ukraine It raises global energy and food prices, making it impossible for the nearly bankrupt country to import what it needs, exacerbating its economic struggles.

“Even if you didn’t go to war in Ukraine, Sri Lanka would be in crisis, but it adds up,” Alan Keenan, an analyst at the International Crisis Group consultancy, told The Post in April. “It’s the Ukraine effect: You thought the fuel credit line would last two months, and now it’s going to last one. Even though you’ve got a bailout, you’re buying less food, less fuel, less medicine.

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Even as opposition parties try to build a consensus on the next steps, the situation remains volatile as people have run out of patience and no quick solutions are available.

In May, similar large-scale protests led to the resignation of Rajapakse’s elder brother Mahinda and other family members as prime minister. But the president hung on to appoint the former prime minister to head a new government.

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Anger over the continuing economic crisis has spread again, this time with greater force. Recent weeks have been marked by severe fuel shortages, prolonged power outages and rising food prices. Extraordinary circumstances forced the authorities Schools and offices closed and government employees to grow food in backyards.

Signs of dire distress are evident everywhere — miles-long lines at gas stations can take up to three days to reach the front. Asylum seekers’ desperate attempts to reach Australia by sea.

Far from Ukraine, Sri Lanka is at the center of the global crisis

Experts say Sri Lanka is experiencing stagnation – a period marked by slow growth and high unemployment and rising prices. Some forecasts suggest that the economy could contract by 4 to 6 percent later this year, which would be worse than the impact of Covid on the economy in 2020.

Sri Lanka has been holding bailout talks with international lenders, but continued political instability threatens to derail that process.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will step down on July 13. This comes after months of protests. (Video: Reuters)

Manjuka Fernandopulle, a lawyer specializing in debt restructuring, said creditors want to deal with a government that is “credible and legitimate” and that can “deliver the promised reform”.

Local media reported International Monetary Fund He said he hoped a solution would be found soon so that talks on the bailout package could resume. Ganesan Wignaraja, an economist at ODI, a UK-based global affairs think tank involved in the IMF discussions, described the economic situation as “very challenging”.

The first step for Sri Lanka is the IMF plan, which includes “higher taxes, raising interest rates to stabilize inflation and reducing public subsidies such as power and electricity,” Vignarajah said.

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“The second step is economic reforms [such as] It reduces barriers for foreign investors,” he said. “My biggest fear is that this could be a lost decade and all the gains made in poverty reduction could be reversed.”

Aid groups say nearly a quarter of the country’s 22 million residents are in need Food assistance. Many have resorted to eating less or skipping meals altogether. Countries including India and Australia have sent humanitarian aid such as food and medicine.

With the imminent ouster of the president, many Sri Lankans believe the situation could be reversed.

Namal Ratnayake, 40, was among the protesters who marched towards the President’s office. The past few months have been disastrous for the wedding photographer, with income drying up and no fuel to go on assignments.

“We had to throw out these corrupt people who brought us to our knees,” Ratnayake said. “My request is to appoint honest and educated people from the present parliament to get us out of this immediate mess.”

The celebrations continued at the President’s residence.

Pictures from local media showed the flow of visitors as one way Loading staircase At the President’s house. Notices were issued not to steal or damage property. Some collected garbage and cleaned the garbage.

In a large conference room, people held a debate with the IMF while a young man acted as Rajapakse. Campaign song Loud applause at the President’s piano.

Masih reported from New Delhi.

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