Sri Lanka Crisis LIVE Updates: Parliament Begins Process to Elect New President; Indian Govt to Brief Pol Parties on Lanka Situation

Sri Lanka Crisis LIVE Updates: Sri Lanka’s Parliament held a special session on Saturday to start the process of electing a new president on July 20 following the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, with four contenders, including acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe joining the race to head the next government that has the arduous task to revive the country’s bankrupt economy.

During a 13-minute special session, Dhammika Dassanayake, Secretary General of Parliament, announced the vacancy for the post of president after the resignation Rajapaksa, who fled the country after a popular uprising against him for mishandling the country’s economic crisis.

Here are the latest updates in the story:

– Sri Lanka’s acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe, main Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa are among the four leaders who have joined the race to become the country’s next President as the lawmakers met on Saturday to start the process of electing a new president to succeed Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Besides Wickremesinghe and Premadasa, Marxist JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Dullas Alahapperuma, a breakaway SLPP candidate, are the other two leaders who have so far announced their candidacy.

– Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a letter, sent from the safety of a safe haven in Singapore, blamed Covid-19 for the financial meltdown that triggered months of protests, culminating in his humiliating escape abroad.

– Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn in as acting president after his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to Singapore and resigned following months of protests over the country’s financial meltdown.

– President Gotabaya Rajapaksa faced protests in the Maldives Wednesday with dozens of compatriots urging Male not to provide him safe heaven. Sri Lankan expatriates carrying flags and placards denounced Rajapaksa, who fled his country early Wednesday after protesters overran his Colombo residence.

– The ministries of External Affairs and Finance will brief the floor leaders of various political parties in Parliament on the Sri Lanka situation on Tuesday, officials said. Citing an office memorandum, the officials said the briefing by the two ministries has been scheduled for the evening of July 19, the second day of the monsoon session of Parliament.

India has assured Sri Lanka that it will continue to support democracy, stability and economic recovery in the country, which is at a crucial juncture, amid the unprecedented political crisis and economic turmoil. The assurance was given to Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena by India’s High Commissioner Gopal Baglay when he called on the Sri Lankan leader.

– Over six million people or over 28 per cent of Sri Lanka’s population are “food insecure” and this situation is likely to deteriorate as the crisis unfolds in the island nation which is grappling with its worst economic crisis, the World Food Programme has said.

– The United Nations in Sri Lanka has urged all stakeholders in the island nation to ensure a peaceful transition of power in full respect for the Constitution and to ensure that the root causes of the current instability and people’s grievances are addressed. Following the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer-Hamdy said in a statement on Friday that it is imperative that the transition of power is accompanied by broad and inclusive consultation within and outside Parliament.

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