Demonstrators defied police repression and a state of siege on Wednesday and stormed the office of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe after he was declared president.Hours after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s trip to the Maldives.
The protesters are demanding the prime minister to resign at the same time as Rajapaksa, who had promised to do so on Wednesday, did. Besieged by the worst economic and political crisis in the history of this island of 22 million people located in southern India.
The new Prime Minister and Provisional President is appointed by Rajapaksa under Article 37.1 of the Sri Lankan Constitution, which states that in case of illness, absence from the country and other reasons preventing him from exercising his powers, the President can appoint the Prime Minister for the position during this time period.
As soon as he took office as Provisional President, as declared by Parliament, Wickremesinghe went live on national radio and television and asked the army and police to do “whatever is necessary to restore order”.. He added that the protesters “They want to prevent me from fulfilling my responsibilities as president. We cannot allow fascists to take over.”.
On Wednesday the same, a 26-year-old young protester died after being injured during protests in front of the Prime Minister’s Office. In Colombo, where security forces used tear gas. The protester was taken to a hospital in the area due to respiratory problems, and died shortly after, according to information from the “Daily Mirror”.
The opposition has a tragic look
Sri Lankan opposition leader Sajit Premadasa described the appointment of the prime minister as interim president as a “tragedy” on Wednesday.while condemning that Wickremesinghe does not have the authority to declare a state of emergency and declare a curfew.
The opponent added that “the prime minister becomes acting president only if he is so appointed by the president, his position is vacant, or the chief justice, after consulting with the speaker of parliament, considers that the president is unable to perform his duties. They perform their duties.” “In the absence of all this, the prime minister cannot exercise the powers of the president and cannot declare a curfew or a state of emergency,” he added.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 73, left Sri Lanka early Wednesday morning on a military plane and arrived in the Maldives with his wife and bodyguard. On board an Antonov 32 plane took off from the main international airport. After thousands of protesters stormed his official residence on Saturday, Rajapaksa vowed he would step down on Wednesday and pave the way for a “peaceful transition” of power.
It is appropriate that Rajapaksa benefits from presidential immunity and can use it to seek asylum abroad and not be detained at home.. A source from Mali airport confirmed to AFP the arrival of the president, who was taken to an undisclosed location after landing in the Maldives.