Sri Lanka Turmoil: Curfew Clamped; PM Ranil Asks Speaker to Nominate Replacement | Key Points

Last Updated: July 13, 2022, 23:28 IST

Demonstrators stand on the wall of Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's office premises during a protest in Colombo on July 13. (Image: Reuters)

Demonstrators stand on the wall of Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office premises during a protest in Colombo on July 13. (Image: Reuters)

The police fired tear gas on protesters who broke through a barricade and stormed the prime minister’s office earlier in the day

For the last few months, Sri Lanka has been facing its worst time in seven decades as the country is under the grip of an unprecedented economic crisis, leaving millions of people struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel, and other essentials. To escape from public anger, embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday fled to the Maldives from where he appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the acting President, which escalated the political crisis and triggered fresh protests in the country.

President Rajapaksa issued a Gazette Extraordinary, appointing Wickremesinghe as the acting president to exercise, perform and discharge the powers, duties, and functions of the Office of President with effect from July 13, 2022.

Thousands of protesters waving Lankan flags surrounded the building of the Prime Minister’s Office earlier in the day and police fired tear gas on them as they broke through a barricade and stormed the PM’s office.

Here are the top developments on the current political and economic situation in the island nation Sri Lanka:

  • Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Wednesday said that President Rajapaksa has informed him over the telephone that he will resign today (July 13) as promised. He further said that the vote for the new president will be held on July 20.
  • Acting President and PM Wickremesinghe has declared a state of emergency in the country.
  • A nationwide curfew has also been imposed in Sri Lanka till 5 am Thursday.
  • Sri Lanka’s opposition leaders have asked PM Wickremesinghe to quit ahead of the resignation of President Rajapaksa, according to News 1st channel report. Tamil National Alliance MP MA Sumanthiran reportedly said that the decision was taken at an all-party meeting which was attended by leaders excluding those from the government.
  • Ruling party Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna has called upon Wickremesinghe and the country’s armed forces to maintain law and order and appealed to the protesters not to vandalise state or private property.
  • In his first televised address since his appointment, Wickremesinghe said he had ordered military and police to “do what is necessary to restore order”. “We must end this fascist threat to democracy. We can’t allow the destruction of state property. The President’s Office, the President’s Secretariat and the Prime Minister’s official residence must be returned to proper custody,” he said.
  • A 26-year-old protester had died of breathing difficulties after being admitted to the hospital. He was part of the group that stormed the PM’s office today morning where 35 others had also been injured.
  • A brief statement from the Sri Lanka Air Force said that President Rajapaksa left the country along with his wife and two security officers on a military jet and added that it was done with complete approval from the ministry of defence.
  • After facing flak from its own leaders, the Maldivian government’s argument is that Rajapaksa is still the President of Sri Lanka and that he hasn’t resigned or handed over his powers to a successor. Therefore, if he wanted to travel to the Maldives, it could not have been denied, sources told news agency PTI. The Maldives government has not yet officially commented on his presence in the island nation.
  • President Rajapaksa may now be headed to Singapore with his family from Maldives, sources told CNN-News18 exclusively. Sources said that Rajapaksa has been speaking to Singapore authorities and they, too, have given the go-ahead.
  • Wickremesinghe has asked the Speaker to nominate a Prime Minister who is acceptable to both the government and the Opposition. In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said that the President held a meeting with the Members of the Cabinet at his office on Monday. All the ministers who participated in this meeting were of the opinion that as soon as there is an agreement to form an all-party government, they will hand over the responsibilities to that government, it said.

(with inputs from PTI)

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