Ex- President in exile Gotabya Rajapaksa pledges to continue to serve Sri Lanka
Former President Gotabya Rajapaksa in exile says he will continue to serve Sri Lanka following his resignation as President.
He made this pledge in his resignation letter which was read out in Parliament yesterday.
Sri Lanka’s ousted president, who fled overseas this week to escape a popular uprising against his government, has said he took “all possible steps” to avert the economic crisis that has engulfed the island nation.
The President said that he was satisfied with efforts taken to protect Sri Lanka from the pandemic at that time.
He further said that by enforcing lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, the country lost foreign exchange and the economy, which was already suffering, took a hit.
Rajapaksa said that he had invited all the political parties to help form an all-party Government to address the crisis and took all the required steps in this regard.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that following a request made by political part leaders and the public, he had decided to step down from his post with effect from 14th July 2022.
The former President also said that he will continue to serve the country of his birth as he has done in the past.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation was accepted by parliament on Friday. He flew to the Maldives and then Singapore after hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters came out onto the streets of Colombo a week ago and occupied his official residence and offices.
Sri Lanka’s parliament met on Saturday to begin the process of electing a new president, and a shipment of fuel arrived to provide some relief to the crisis-hit nation.
Dhammika Dasanayake, the secretary general of Sri Lanka’s parliament, formally read out Rajapaksa’s resignation letter, the contents of which had not previously been made public.
In the letter, Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka’s financial crisis was rooted in years of economic mismanagement that pre-dated his presidency and in the COVID-19 pandemic that drastically reduced Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals and remittances from foreign workers.
“It is my personal belief that I took all possible steps to address this crisis, including inviting parliamentarians to form an all-party or unity government,” the letter said.
Parliament will next meet on Tuesday to accept nominations for the post of the president. A vote to decide the country’s leader is set to take place on Wednesday.
Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, an ally of Rajapaksa who is the sole representative of his party in parliament, has been sworn in as acting president until then.
Wickremesinghe is one of the top contenders to take on the role full-time but protesters also want him gone, leading to the prospect of further unrest should he be elected.
The opposition’s presidential nominee is Sajith Premadasa. The potential dark horse is senior ruling party lawmaker Dullas Alahapperuma.