COLOMBO: Three days after a mass uprising almost deposed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, there was more clarity on the timeline for the election of his successor. Also, right through the day there were rumours on the whereabouts of Gotabaya. Media reports suggested he had left on a navy ship on Saturday but returned to the country on Monday and took stock of the situation in a meeting with tri-services chiefs. There was wild speculation as well on his possible departure abroad after his resignation.
Top political sources told this newspaper that Sri Lanka will find a replacement interim president by July 20. All political parties have agreed to prevent any further delay in ushing in political stability. Consensus has been reached that following the president’s resignation on July 13, Parliament will meet on July 15 and call for nominations for the post of president. Nominations are to be accepted by July 19 and a new president is tipped to be elected by the House on July 20.
Members of the outgoing ministry agreed to resign to pave the way for a new interim administration, during a morning meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Among the factors the new government constituted by Gotabaya’s successor would have to deal with is the demand of the protesters who put them in the saddle, for a place at the decision-making table so as to contribute to the country’s strategising process.
The biggest challenge for the new government would be debt restructuring and bailout packages from international lending agencies that were under discussion. Protesters continue to occupy the presidential secretariat, the president’s house, and the prime minister’s residence. They have threatened to resume protests if Gotabaya does not resign by July 13, a deadline he set for himself.