Colombo: Former President Maithripala Sirisena has announced that Mahinda Rajapaksa will step down as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. He was speaking to reporters in the capital, Colombo.
The agreement was reached during opposition talks with the current president, Mahinda’s brother, and Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Sirisena said Gotabaya had agreed to form a government that included all opposition parties and that Mahinda would not be included. He also said that the new cabinet would have 20 members and a National Council comprising all political parties would be formed and the body would take key decisions.
In Sirisena, the announcement marked an unexpected turning point in Sri Lankan politics. Earlier, protests erupted across the country following the severe economic crisis in Sri Lanka, the problem of unemployment and rising prices.
With the country’s foreign exchange market completely empty, the demand for the Rajapaksas to step down was strengthened. To deal with this, Gotabhaya expelled other family members from the government and extended Mahinda as prime minister only.
Opposition parties have stated they will not run in the by-elections, but Mahinda has said he will not resign.
Mahinda’s party has repeatedly said that it has the support of MPs to continue as prime minister. Also, Mahinda’s son and former minister Namal Rajapaksa said, ‘If Gotabhaya wants to resign, he should resign himself. What is the use of giving headache medicine if there is pain? ‘
But Gotabaya’s decision to remove Mahinda is currently seen as a major move in Sri Lankan politics following continued pressure from the opposition. There is an expectation that Mahinda will accept this decision or raise the battle flag.
While countries like India and Indonesia have been providing financial assistance to Sri Lanka, which is facing a severe financial crisis, India is also closely monitoring the developments in Sri Lanka.