Sri Lanka president resigns …after fleeing island

Gotabaya Rajapaksa has resigned as president of Sri Lanka after fleeing to Singapore in the face of mass protests at home over his rule.

He arrived in Singapore after first flying to the Maldives on Tuesday night. Reports say he was accompanied by his wife and two bodyguards.

He was believed to have wanted to leave Sri Lanka before stepping down to avoid the possibility of arrest.

The cost of food, fuel and other basic supplies had soared for Sri Lankans.

“He has not asked for asylum and neither has he been granted any asylum. Singapore generally does not grant requests for asylum,” Singapore’s foreign ministry said, confirming he had landed.

The resignation letter was sent by email to the Speaker of Parliament, who said he would complete legal processes and announce it officially on Friday.

Acting President, Ranil Wickremesinghe, on Thursday imposed a curfew for a second day. His government ordered a curfew from noon (06:30 GMT) to 05:00 on Friday to quell protests.

The streets of Colombo were calmer as anti-government demonstrators began leaving some of the official buildings they had occupied.

“We are peacefully withdrawing from the presidential palace, the presidential secretariat and the prime minister’s office with immediate effect, but will continue our struggle,” said a spokeswoman for the protesters.

Mr Wickremesinghe was appointed acting president by President Rajapaksa after the latter fled – but the decision triggered further protests demanding the Prime Minister (PM) also to resign.

One person died and 84 others were injured during Wednesday’s protests, which took place at key landmarks around the capital, Colombo, including the prime minister’s office.

Major demonstrations, since April, over the country’s economic crisis escalated after protesters broke into the presidential palace on Saturday and set fire to the prime minister’s private home.

On Wednesday, police fired tear gas at protesters attempting to break down the gates of the prime minister’s office in Colombo, before finally forcing their way in. They later headed for parliament but did not get in.

By Thursday, protesters had handed back the president’s official residence to the authorities when the BBC visited. There were no protesters at Parliament on Thursday afternoon, a BBC correspondent confirmed. -BBC

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