COLOMBO — Sri Lanka’s opposition political parties will meet Sunday to agree on a new government a day after the country’s president and prime minister offered to resign in the most dramatic day of months long political turmoil, with protesters storming both leaders’ homes and setting fire to one of the buildings in a rage over the economic crisis.
It was not clear if President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was at his residence at the time, and government spokesperson Mohan Samaranayake said he had no information about his movements.
Protesters remained in Rajapaksa’s home, his seaside office and the prime minister’s residence, saying they will stay until they officially resign. Soldiers were deployed around the city and Chief of Defense Staff Shavendra Silva called for public support to maintain law and order.
Opposition lawmaker M. A. Sumanthiran said all opposition parties combined could easily muster the 113 members needed to show a majority in Parliament, at which point they will request Rajapaksa to install the new government and then resign.
He said the parties hoped to reach consensus Sunday.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he will leave office once a new government is in place, and hours later the speaker of Parliament said Rajapaksa would step down Wednesday. Pressure on both men had grown as the economic meltdown set off acute shortages of essential items, leaving people struggling to obtain food, fuel and other necessities.
If both president and prime minister resign, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena will take over as temporary president, according to the constitution. — Agencies