Sri Lanka PM asks Speaker to appoint new prime minister acceptable to both government and Opposition
Meanwhile, a curfew has been imposed in the entire country till 5 am on Thursday.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday asked Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to nominate a new prime minister who is acceptable to both the government and the Opposition.
The statement came after fresh protests erupted in the island nation as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country. Following the protests, a state of emergency was declared in the country.
Wickremesinghe was then named as the acting president, the parliament Speaker said. A notification has been published to this effect.
Rajapaksa left for the Maldives hours before he was expected to resign amid widespread protests over his handling of a devastating economic crisis.
Thousands of protestors took to the streets of capital Colombo, demanding Rajapaksa’s immediate resignation.
Last week, the president had said he will step down on Wednesday to make way for a “peaceful transition of power” in Sri Lanka after protestors stormed his official residence.
Sri Lanka has run out of foreign-exchange reserves that has limited essential imports of fuel, food and medicine, plunging it into the worst economic meltdown in 70 years. The island nation’s inflation rate touched 54.6% year-over-year in June while food inflation shot up to 80%.
9.39 pm: Curfew imposed in entire Sri Lanka till 5 am on Thursday, reports Newswire.
9.12 pm: A notification in the Gazette is published appointing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as acting president, reports NewsWire. The notification has been signed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who fled the country earlier in the day.
8.48 pm: At an all-party meeting, Sri Lanka’s political leaders ask Prime Minister and acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe to resign and let the Speaker take over as the acting president, reports NDTV.
8.42 pm: Acting President and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe asks Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to nominate a prime minister who is acceptable to both the government and the Opposition, reports Daily Mirror.
8.19 pm: Hundreds of protestors have broken the first line of barricades outside the Parliament, Daily Mirror reports. Security forces are firing tear gas to disperse the crowd.
8.13 pm: A 26-year-old protestor reportedly died after being tear-gassed outside the prime minister’s office, according to the Daily Mirror. He had developed breathing difficulties.
8.05 pm: The Bar Association of Sri Lanka appeals the public to remain calm and “to leave room for the peaceful transition of power which the political leaders of this country have promised”.
7.58 pm: Still no sign of resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, tweets Sri Lanka MP Harsha De Silva
6.20 pm: Sri Lankan military calls for political resolution to maintain law and order, reports PTI.
6.04 pm: Protestors were seen cleaning the premises of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office and the area around it after they took it over as part of the protests, reports Daily Mirror.
5.37 pm: Sri Lankan citizens living in Maldives hold protests. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to Maldives earlier today.
5.14 pm: Here are some visuals of protestors at Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office in Colombo.
5.06 pm: India’s Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia says over 120 aircraft that was heading for Sri Lanka landed in Kerala’s Trivandrum and Kochi airports after an emergency was declared in the island nation.
He thanks the airports for doing beyond their call of duty. “The gesture will go a long way in furthering ties with our neighbour,” he adds.
5.02 pm: The United States Embassy in Sri Lanka cancels all consular services in the island nation for Wednesday and Thursday amid the protests.
“We apologize for any inconvenience and will reschedule all canceled appointments,” the embassy tweets.
4.57 pm: The Maldives National Party expresses unhappiness on the government’s decision to allow Gotabaya Rajapaksa to travel to the country, reports PTI. The party says it will move in motion in the House seeking explanation for the decision from the Ibrahim Mohamed Solih government.
4.55 pm: Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled to the Maldives, will leave for Singapore later in the day, unidentified officials told Daily Mirror.
4.03 pm: Ranil Wickremesinghe urges protestors who stormed his office and other government buildings to leave and to co-operate with officials, the BBC reports.
“We can’t tear up our constitution,” he says. “We can’t allow fascists to take over. We must end this fascist threat to democracy.”
Wickremesinghe has also directed security personnel to do what is necessary to restore order.
3.58 pm: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in a televised statement, directs military and police personnel to restore order, AFP reports.
Thousands of protestors have taken to the streets of capital Colombo, demanding President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s immediate resignation.
3.34 pm: Sri Lanka Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena says President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will resign on Wednesday as promised, reports PTI.
3.15 pm: Protestors enter the premises of Sri Lankan prime minister’s office in Colombo, raise flag atop the building, reports ANI.
3.13 pm: US Embassy in Sri Lanka cancels consular services for Wednesday and Thursday aming protests.
2.45 pm: The national television channel, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, has resumed transmission after it went off-air earlier today, reports News Wire. The channel was allegedly forced to temporarily suspend telecast after anti-government protestors entered the station.
2.04 pm: Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa says that the prime minister can become the acting president only if the president appoints him as such, or if the Chief Justice in consultation with the Speaker reaches the conclusion that the president is unable to act.
“In the absence of any of these, the PM cannot exercise the powers of President, and cannot declare curfew or a state of emergency,” he said.
1.58 pm: Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will provide the “legal explanation” for his actions in the next few hours, a spokesperson said, according to Al-Jazeera.
The parliament Speaker earlier said that Wickremesinghe has been appointed as acting president after Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country.
1.48 pm: Visuals by ANI show protestors in Colombo offering help to an injured security official during the demonstrations.
1.28 pm: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been appointed as the acting president, the BBC reports, quoting the parliament Speaker.
The official says that President Gotabaya Rakapaksa, who fled the country for Maldives, informed him about the appointment.
1.23 pm: Protestors at Colombo’s Galle Face Green area say that Sri Lanka is faced with an “extreme economic crisis,” the BBC reports.
“The people here are here so they can have a vote for the future,” Viraga Perera, a protestor, says.
1.13 pm: A video by AFP shows police personnel firing tear gas at protestors trying to storm the prime minister’s office.
1.08 pm: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has announced a state of emergency in his role as acting president, a senior official tells Reuters.
“The prime minister as acting president has declared a state of emergency (countrywide) and imposed a curfew in the western province,” the prime minister’s media secretary Dinouk Colombage says.
12.55 pm: Jayamapthy Wickrameratne, an expert on constitutional affairs, tells Al-Jazeera that the prime minister does not have the power to declare a state of emergency.
“The State of Emergency cannot be declared such a way,” he says. “Before declaring state of emergency, he needs to be appointed as acting president but it has not happened yet. This is an illegal order.”
12.48 pm: A video by ANI shows a military helicopter carrying out air patrolling as protestors try to storm Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s house in Colombo.
12.20 pm: Champika adds that the next president will appointed be for an interim period, reports ANI. “Presidential elections can’t be held at this juncture, as per the constitution it should be in held 2024,” he says.
12.15 pm: Opposition MP Patali Champika Ranawaka says Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa left the country without signing his resignation, ANI reports.
“The speaker and whole country hoped that he would send his resignation properly, so that within next week we can elect another president,” Ranawaka says.
12.10 pm: Sri Lanka declares a state of emergency, reports, AFP
12.05 pm: Protests erupt in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, demanding Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s immediate resignation.
The police use tear gas shells to stop those trying to enter the Sri Lankan prime minister’s house.
12.00 pm: The Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka refutes reports claiming that India helped the president and his younger brother Basil Rajapaksa flee the country.
“It is reiterated that India will continue to support the people of Sri Lanka as they seek to realise their aspirations for prosperity and progress through democratic means and values, established democratic institutions and constitutional framework,” the commission says.
11.55 pm: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday fled the country for the Maldives, hours before he was due to step down from his post amid widespread protests over his handling of the island nation’s worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.