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Tuesday 12 July 2022

Sri Lanka crisis: Opposition parties agree to form all-party interim govt after Rajapaksa's resignation

 Sri Lanka crisis: Opposition parties agree to form all-party interim govt after Rajapaksa's resignation

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's main opposition parties on Sunday agreed to form an all-party interim government after the  forecast resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday, following inequality political turmoil that forced him and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to offer their resignations over the mishandling of the nation's crippling economic crisis.

 criticism parties held talks to seek ways to steer the country forward in the current unprecedented economic crisis after Rajapaksa's resignation.

"We agreed in principle to form a government of unity with all parties participation for an interim period," Wimal Weerawansa of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party's breakaway group said.

"This will be a government where all parties are represented," he said.

Vasudeva Nanayakkara, another leader of the SLPP breakaway group said they need not wait for Rajapaksa's resignation on July 13.

President Rajapaksa informed Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Saturday that he will resign on Wednesday after the country's opposition parties demanded his resignation.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also offered to resign.

The main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya party said they held extensive internal discussions.

"We aim for an interim government of all parties for a limited period and then go for a parliamentary election," Ranjith Madduma Bandara, the SJB general secretary said.

The leaders of political parties represented in Parliament are to meet on Monday afternoon to discuss the convening of the House for the transition of power for a new government after Rajapaksa said he will resign.

Speaker Abeywardena conveyed to Rajapaksa on Saturday that Opposition party leaders want him to resign after anti-government protesters stormed his offices and the official residence.

Under the Constitution, the incumbent prime minister would automatically get appointed as the acting president for a short time until Parliament votes and appoint a successor to the president.

The protesters are also demanding the resignation of prime minister Wickremesinghe.

The resignation of both the president and prime minister would mean that Speaker Abeywardena would become the acting president.

He stressed on Saturday that to deal with the International Monetary Fund on an assistance programme and to deal with shortages of essentials including food and fuel, it was important not to leave a vacuum.

In a statement Saturday night, Wickremesinghe said "this country is  grasp with ammunition and food shortages. There will be an important visit scheduled by the World Food Programme next week while crucial talks have to be continued with the IMF. So if the current government is to quit it must be replaced by the next."

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