After a delay of a day, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, sent his resignation to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday evening (14), after fleeing to Singapore via the Maldives, after public anger boiled over on 9 July in Colombo.  The official confirmation with regard to the letter will be announced today (15), after re-confirming the authenticity and completing the legal procedures, the Speaker said.

Ceylon Today learns that the Speaker received the letter via email.

This is the first time, a President tendered resignation following people’s protests in Sri Lankan political history.

Rajapaksa’s original resignation letter will be flown into Colombo from Singapore as soon as possible, Reuters reported.

Protests erupted islandwide, most of them since March this year demanding Rajapaksa’s resignation following the country’s worst economic meltdown.

After thousands of protestors gathered near President’s private residence in Mirihana, Nugegoda on 31 March and demanded his resignation, Rajapaksa moved to the President’s House in Fort.

In an attempt to defuse public anger, Cabinet resigned on 3 April and a new Cabinet was appointed on 18 April. Rajapaksa’s brother Mahinda Rajapaksa remained as Premier but none of the other members of Rajapaksa family was included in the Cabinet.

The protestors then occupied Galle Face near the Presidential Secretariat on 9 April and named the site ‘GotaGoGama.’

Situation turned ugly on 9 May when Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna supporters who visited the Temple Trees to declare their support to then Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa brutally attacked GotaGoGama protestors. Following the brutal attack, islandwide unrest broke out resulting in arson attacks on many MPs houses and properties. Ruling Party MP Amarakeerthi Athukorala was killed by an unruly mob in Nittambuwa. Mahinda Rajapaksa stepped down from the post of PM following the unrest.

Although Gotabaya Rajapaksa invited parties to form an all-party government after the events, most opposition parties rejected the offer demanding Rajapaksa’s resignation.

In this backdrop, current Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the PM on 12 May and a new Cabinet was formed with the participation of several Opposition and independent MPs.

However, the public protests continued and a mass protest was organised on 9 July to mark the three month anniversary of GotaGoGama. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Colombo to demand the resignation of Rajapaksa despite the fuel crisis and Police curfew imposed on the night of previous day.

The protesters, amidst heavy rounds of tear gas and water cannons managed to occupy the President’s House in Fort, Presidential Secretariat and the Temple Trees. Rajapaksa was evacuated to a safe location.

Rajapaksa fled the country and arrived in Male, Maldives by a Sri Lanka Air Force jet in the early hours of Wednesday (13). He landed Singapore yesterday (14) evening before sending the resignation letter.

By Methmalie Dissanayake