The whereabouts of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa remain unknown.

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 the premises and torched one of the buildings protesting the nation’s dire economic crisis, even as The island nation still knows nothing about the whereabouts of the embattled president.

Rajapaksa’s only outside communication since protesters stormed the city has been with Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, who announced on Saturday night that the president would step down on Wednesday.

President Rajapaksa informed the president of this decision to resign after Abeywardena wrote to him requesting his resignation following the all-party leaders’ meeting held on Saturday night.

The Speaker would become the Acting President in the absence of both the President and the Prime Minister. Subsequently, an election must take place among the deputies to elect a new president. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has also offered to resign.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, whose private home suffered an arson attack last night, remains in office despite calls to resign.

In a statement Saturday night, Wickremesinghe, who has expressed his willingness to step down, said this country is suffering from fuel and food shortages. There will be an important visit scheduled by the WFP next week while crucial talks must continue with the IMF. So if the current government is going to resign, it must be replaced by the next one.”

President Abeywardena had called on President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to step down immediately to make way for an all-party government after the country witnessed its biggest protest yet amid an unprecedented economic crisis.

The IMF said on Sunday it was closely monitoring ongoing developments in Sri Lanka and hoped the political crisis would be resolved soon to allow dialogue on an IMF-backed program in the cash-starved country to resume.

The chief of the Defense Staff, General Shavendra Silva, called for calm. He said that there is now an opportunity to resolve the current political crisis peacefully, saying that the public should help the security forces to maintain peace and stability.

Meanwhile, Colombo’s national hospital said 102 people had been admitted with injuries. Among them are 11 media staff members.

The special police task force was accused of brutally assaulting two television journalists at the prime minister’s private residence protest.

The attack triggered the backlash that resulted in protesters setting the house on fire.

The main opposition SJB said its constituent parties will meet this morning to take stock of the political situation.

At least four cabinet ministers have offered their resignations. Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said he would step down the moment he ceremonially receives the fertilizer stock due on Sunday from India.

I will resign today after receiving the 40,000 metric tons of urea we received yesterday under the Indian credit line,” Amaraweera told reporters.

In May, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s older brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had to resign 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 are now being blamed for the country’s worst economic crisis.

The expected departure of President Rajapaksa on Wednesday and Mahinda Rajapaksa’s resignation 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 in the grip of unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, crippled by an acute foreign exchange shortage that has left it struggling to pay for essential imports of fuel and other items. essential. .

The country, with an acute currency crisis that resulted in the non-payment of foreign debt, had announced in April that it would suspend the payment of almost USD 7 billion of foreign debt due this year of around USD 25 billion due. until 2026.

Sri Lanka’s total external debt amounts to USD 51 billion.

(Only the headline and image in this report may have been modified by Business Standard staff; all other content is auto-generated from a syndicated source.)

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