Sri Lankan president resigns after fleeing country, parliament searches for replacement

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President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned on Thursday after feeling the country amid the country’s economic crisis.

Mahinda Yapa Abeyverdana, Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament, said this on Friday. The country’s parliament will meet on Saturday to begin the process of choosing a new president. The country hopes to have a new president in the next seven days.

Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka on Wednesday after protesters flooded his home and other government offices. Protesters accuse Rajapaksa of stealing money from the government for years. They also blame his administration for mismanaging the economy, which led to its collapse. Rajapaksa admitted that some of his policies contributed to the collapse.

FILE - Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa sings the Sri Lankan national anthem during the country's Independence Day celebrations in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in February.  October 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, file)

FILE – Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa sings the Sri Lankan national anthem during the country’s Independence Day celebrations in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in February. October 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, file)

Months of protests came to a head over the weekend when demonstrators stormed the president’s home and office, as well as the official residence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. On Wednesday they took over Wickremesinghe’s office.

PRESIDENT OF SRI LANKA FLEES THE COUNTRY, PROTESTERS STORM TO PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE DURING STATE OF STATE OF DECISION

At first, the demonstrators promised to hold these places until a new government emerged but the movement changed tack on Thursday, apparently fearing any escalation in violence could undermine their position following clashes the night before outside Parliament House that left dozens injured.

Army officers stand guard as people crowd the official residence of President Gotabay Rajapaksa a second day after the assault in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on July 11.

Army officers stand guard as people crowd the official residence of President Gotabay Rajapaksa a second day after the assault in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on July 11.
(AP / Rafiq Makbool)

Rajapaksa’s successor will serve as president until the end of his term, which ends in 2024. The new leader could potentially choose a new prime minister, who would have to be approved by parliament.

ECONOMIC PROTESTS AROUND THE WORLD AS CHALLENGES FROM INFLATION, WAR IN UKRAINE, CORONAVIRUS

The country of about 22 million people is going through a difficult lack of foreign exchange which restricted the main imports of fuel, food and medicine. The shortage has left the island in its worst financial position in over 70 years.

Protesters demanding the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabai Rajapaksa swim in a swimming pool on the grounds of the Sri Lankan Presidential Palace in Colombo July 9, 2022.

Protesters demanding the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabai Rajapaksa swim in a swimming pool on the grounds of the Sri Lankan Presidential Palace in Colombo July 9, 2022.
(AFP via Getty Images)

Sri Lanka has not received fuel supplies in recent weeks, forcing school closures and limiting the use of gasoline and diesel fuel for essential services. Residents skip meals to queue for hours for scarce fuel.

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And the rate of inflation in the country is growing rapidly. Sri Lanka inflation reached 54.6% in June.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.