“I am happy that Gotabaya has finally left. He should have resigned earlier, without causing much problems,” Velayuthan Pillai, 73, a retired bank employee, said as patriotic songs were blaring from loudspeakers.
But he added that “Ranil is a supporter of Gotabaya and other Rajapaksas. He was helping them. He also must go.”
Protesters who had occupied government buildings retreated Thursday, restoring a tenuous calm in Colombo. But with the political opposition in Parliament fractured, a solution to Sri Lanka’s many troubles seemed no closer.
The nation is seeking help from the International Monetary Fund and other creditors, but its finances are so poor that even obtaining a bailout has proven difficult, Wickremesinghe recently said.
The country remains a powder keg, and the military warned Thursday that it had powers to respond in case of chaos, a message some found concerning.
Abeywardana promised a swift and transparent process for electing a new president.
“I request the honorable and loving citizens of this country to create a peaceful atmosphere in order to implement the proper parliamentary democratic process and enable all members of Parliament to participate in the meetings and function freely and conscientiously,” he said Friday.
The protesters accuse Rajapaksa and his powerful political family of siphoning money from government coffers for years and of hastening the country’s collapse by mismanaging the economy. The family has denied the corruption allegations, but Rajapaksa acknowledged that some of his policies contributed to Sri Lanka’s meltdown.
Maduka Iroshan, 26, a university student and protester, said he was “thrilled” that Rajapaksa had quit, because he “ruined the dreams of the young generation.”
Rajapaksa and his wife slipped away in the night aboard a military plane early Wednesday. On Thursday, he went to Singapore, according to the city-state’s Foreign Ministry. It said he had not requested asylum.
Since Sri Lankan presidents are protected from arrest while in power, Rajapaksa most likely wanted to leave while he still had constitutional immunity and access to the plane.
It was not immediately clear if Singapore would be Rajapaksa’s final destination, but he has previously sought medical care there, including undergoing heart surgery.
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