Sri Lanka Parliament speaker: President to resign Wednesday

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has agreed to resign in the coming days, the speaker of Sri Lanka’s Parliament said on a tumultuous Saturday that also saw the prime minister say he would step down and the storming of both leaders’ residences by protesters angry over the nation’s severe economic crisis.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said in a televised statement that he informed Rajapaksa that parliamentary leaders had met and decided to request he leave office, and the president agreed. However Rajapaksa will remain until Wednesday to ensure a smooth transfer of power, Abeywardena added.

“He asked me to inform the country that he will make his resignation on Wednesday the 13th because there is a need to hand over power peacefully,” Abeywardena said.

“Therefore there is no need for further disturbances in the country and I urge everyone for the sake of the country to maintain peace to enable a smooth transition,” the speaker continued.

Opposition lawmaker Rauff Hakeem said a consensus was reached for the speaker of Parliament to take over as temporary president and work on an interim government.

The announcement of the president’s resignation came hours after protesters swarmed into his fortified residence in Colombo. Video images showed jubilant crowds taking a dip in the garden pool. Some people lay on the home’s beds, while others made tea and issued statements from a conference room demanding the departure of both Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

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