Gotabaya Rajapaksa still in Sri Lanka, clarifies Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena
| Updated: Monday, July 11, 2022, 20:19 [IST]
Colombo, July 11: Sri Lanka Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Monday admitted his mistake and said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is still in the country, soon after reports emerged that President has left the island nation.President Gotabaya Rajapaksa
"President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa is still in the country, I made a mistake in the (BBC) interview: Speaker of Sri Lanka's Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena confirms to ANI in a telephone call.
Rajapaksa, 73, is yet to resign formally and his whereabouts are also not yet known.
"This was (speculated) after a mistake made by Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena who had said he had left the country but would be back by Wednesday to offer his resignation. Abeywardena later corrected the mistake," Speaker's office said.
Rajapaksa informed the Speaker on Saturday that he will resign on July 13.
The anti-government protesters in Sri Lanka on Sunday continued to occupy the residences of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, a day after they stormed into the premises and set on fire one of the buildings protesting over the nation's severe economic crisis even as the island nation is still in the dark about the embattled President's whereabouts.
Rajapaksa's only communication outside since the protesters stormed into the city has been with the Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, who announced late Saturday night that the President would resign on Wednesday.
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President Rajapaksa informed the Speaker about this decision to quit after Abeywardena wrote to him seeking his resignation following the all-party meeting of leaders held Saturday evening.
The Speaker would become the acting President in the absence of both the President and the Prime Minister. Later, an election among MPs must happen to elect a new President. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has also offered to resign.
At least four Cabinet ministers offered their resignations so far.
In May, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's elder brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had to quit in the face of massive anti-government protests.
The Rajapaksa brothers, Mahinda and Gotabaya, were hailed by many in Sri Lanka as heroes for winning the civil war against the LTTE but they are now blamed for the country's worst economic crisis.
The expected exit of President Rajapaksa on Wednesday and the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister in May is a dramatic fall from grace for a powerful family that has dominated Sri Lankan politics for more than a decade.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, crippled by an acute shortage of foreign exchange that has left it struggling to pay for essential imports of fuel, and other essentials.
The country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026.
Sri Lanka's total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion.