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Sri Lanka To Get New President Next Week Amid Political And Economic Meltdown

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The island nation is embroiled in an economic and political meltdown with its parliament expected to vote for a new president on 20 July. The succession process could take between three days, which is the minimum time taken to convene parliament. A maximum of 30 days is allowed under the statute. The main opposition party Samagi Jana Balawegaya held talks with smaller political groups Monday to secure support for their leader Sajith Premadasa.

Sri Lanka’s parliament will elect a new president on 20 July, its speaker said on Monday, after protesters stormed the residences of the current president and prime minister, who have both offered to quit amid an economic meltdown.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who had overseen a ruthless crushing of the Tamil Tigers insurgents as defence secretary, is set to resign on Wednesday.

His brothers and nephew earlier quit as ministers as Sri Lanka began running out of fuel, food and other essentials in the worst crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

Parliament will reconvene on Friday and will vote to elect a new president five days later, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said in a statement.

“During the party leaders’ meeting held today it was agreed that this was essential to ensure a new all-party government is in place in accordance with the Constitution,” the statement added.

“The ruling party has said the prime minister and the Cabinet are ready to resign to appoint an all-party government”.

There was no official word from the president’s office about his whereabouts, and several local media reports speculated he was set to leave for Dubai later Monday.

But four commercial flights subsequently took off for Middle Eastern destinations without him, airport officials said.

Immigration officers were refusing to go to the VIP suite to stamp his passport, while he insisted he would not go through the public facilities, they added. A humiliating stand-off for the leader once known as ‘The Terminator’.

A military source said Mr Rajapaksa, who remains the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, had the option of travelling in an air force aircraft.

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