sri lanka
Image Credit: Bloomberg

Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will resign after angry protesters stormed their homes, giving into popular pressure in a country struggling to pay for essentials.

Rajapaksa will step down on Wednesday to allow for a smooth transfer of power, the parliament speaker announced on television late Saturday. The president left his residence before the protests and his whereabouts are unknown.

Protesters set fire to Wickremesinghe's private residence Saturday, hours after he said he would step down after holding the job for two months. Wickremesinghe is safe, his office said in a text message, without elaborating.

International Monetary Fund representatives said they plan to continue technical discussions with the finance ministry and the central bank.


Key Developments:

IMF to continue technical discussions with Sri Lanka

The IMF plans to continue technical discussions with counterparts in the finance and central bank, saying it was "deeply concerned about the impact of the ongoing economic crisis on the people, particularly the poor and vulnerable groups."

The fund hopes for a resolution of the current situation that will allow for a resumption of discussions for an IMF-supported program, the officials said in a statement.

US urges Sri Lanka leaders to 'work quickly' to address 'discontent'

The United States on Sunday urged Sri Lankan leaders to act quickly to seek long-term solutions after the president was chased from his residence and announced his resignation.

As President Gotabaya Rajapaksa prepares to step down, the United States calls on "the Sri Lankan parliament to approach this juncture with a commitment to the betterment of the nation - not any one political party," a State Department spokesperson said as Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Thailand.

"We urge this government or any new, constitutionally selected government to work quickly to identify and implement solutions that will achieve long-term economic stability and address the Sri Lankan people's discontent over the worsening economic conditions, including power, food and fuel shortages."

The United States warned against attacks on protesters or journalists, but also criticised violence on Saturday as a mob stormed Rajapaksa's residence.

"The Sri Lankan people have the right to peacefully raise their voices, and we call for the full investigation, arrest and prosecution of anyone involved in any protest-related violent incidents," the spokesperson said.

Protesters celebrate at the president's office and residence

Protesters were celebrating into the night after hearing the news that Rajapaksa would step down as president.

Sri Lanka military calls for public support to ensure peace

General Shavendra Silva, a Rajapaksa ally who assumed the position of Chief of Defence Staff last month, called on Sri Lankans to support the armed forces and the police to ensure there's peace in the country.

He held a briefing, flanked by the Army Commander General Vikum Liyanage and Air Force Chief Sudarshana Pathirana.

President to resign on July 13, parliament speaker says

Rajapaksa agreed to step down as president following a request from party leaders that he leave government, Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said in a televised address.

"He asked me to inform the country that he will make his resignation on Wednesday July 13, because there is a need to hand over power peacefully," Abeywardena said. "I urge everyone for the sake of the country to maintain peace to enable a smooth transition."

PM expresses regret after security assaulted media

Wickremesinghe expressed "grave regret" over security personnel assaulting journalists who were covering the ongoing protests, by security personnel, his media unit said in a statement.

Government troops had used batons to try and push back journalists who were covering the protests taking place outside Wickremesinghe's private home. Protesters later set fire to the residence.

"Freedom of media is paramount to democracy in Sri Lanka. The prime minister requests both the security forces and the protesters to act with restraint to prevent any violence and ensure the safety of the public," the statement added.

Protesters enter the PM's official residence

Protesters entered the official residence of the prime minister in Colombo, waving national flags, according to video footage on social media.

A smaller group also protested near Wickremesinghe's private residence despite security officials firing tear gas, local media reported.

Ceylon Chamber of Commerce calls for president to resign

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce called on Rajapaksa to resign immediately as "he has lost the trust and confidence of the people as aptly demonstrated by the heightened protests witnessed today on an unprecedented scale around President's House and President's Office."

The business group asked the political party leaders to come to a decision and pave the way for a smooth transition of power.

Sri Lanka PM says willing to resign

Wickremesignhe told party leaders he is willing to step down as prime minister and make way for a new government, according to his media office.

He was taking this decision as fuel distribution was due to restart, the World Food Program director would be visiting soon and the debt sustainability report for the IMF will be finalized shortly.

"So as to ensure safety of the citizens, he is agreeable to this recommendation by the Opposition Party Leaders," his media office said in a statement.

Party leaders seek resignations of President, PM

Several party leaders have agreed to ask Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe to resign with the speaker becoming the acting president, two lawmakers tweeted.

Parliament would then elect a lawmaker to become president for the remainder of the term, opposition lawmaker Harsha De Silva said in a tweet. An all-party government should then be appointed and elections held soon, he added.

Sri Lankan Muslim Congress lawmaker Rauff Hakeem said Wickremesinghe initially disagreed with the proposal.