Sri Lanka crisis live updates | July 14, 2022

Protestors gather at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo on July 14, 2022.

Protestors gather at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo on July 14, 2022. | Photo Credit: AFP

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday sent his resignation letter by email from Singapore, the Parliamentary Speaker’s office said, deferring an official announcement to Friday in order to verify the “authenticity and legality” of the document.

The development came a day after Mr. Gotabaya, who rose to power in 2019 on a thumping election win, fled the country and sought refuge on two other islands, as mass anti-government protests rapidly escalated last weekend. Early on Wednesday, he was flown to the Maldives by a Sri Lankan military aircraft. He reached Singapore on Thursday evening, the country’s Foreign Ministry confirmed.

Mr. Gotabaya was allowed entry into Singapore “on a private visit”, the city-state’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. “He has not asked for asylum and neither has he been granted any asylum,” the Ministry said.

Parliament will not be convened on Friday as was announced, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena’s office said, owing to the delay in the receipt of the President’s resignation letter.

Once accepted, his resignation would signal a resounding victory to the citizen’s protests spanning months, demanding “Gota go home”, taking responsibility for the country’s worst economic downturn since Independence in 1948. The powerful leader was forced to flee and quit, after enraged protesters stormed his office and home on Saturday, as a deepening crisis left citizens scrambling for essentials, amid acute shortages and hyperinflation.

For nearly 100 days, demonstrators have camped out in a tent city adjacent to the Presidential Secretariat, located along Colombo’s seafront Galle Face. They braved extreme weather, crippling fuel scarcity, and violence unleashed by ruling party supporters on May 9.

Mr. Gotabaya will be the last of the Rajapaksas to resign from office, following his brothers, including former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who stepped down earlier in the wake of raging opposition to the ruling clan.

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Here is a timeline of events until July 13

Here are the latest updates

11:00 p.m.

President’s resignation to be announced at 7:30 a.m. local time, says Speaker’s office

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation will be announced officially at 7:30 a.m. local time (7:30 a.m. IST) on Friday, the speaker’s office said late on Thursday. - Reuters

9:00 p.m.

Sri Lankan President e-mails resignation: official

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa e-mailed his resignation on Thursday, shortly after he reached Singapore, a spokesman for the parliamentary speaker said.

The resignation was being forwarded to the country's attorney general to consider legal implications before being formally accepted, Indunil Yapa said. -- AFP

5.59 p.m.

Singapore allows Sri Lankan President entry on private visit, says no asylum request

After fleeing Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapksa landed at Singapore’s Changi International Airport on Thursday, Singapore’s Foreign Ministry said he had been allowed to enter the city-state on a private visit.

It said he has not asked for asylum and neither has he been granted asylum. - Reuters

5.17 p.m.

Plane carrying Sri Lankan President lands in Singapore

A plane carrying Sri Lanka’s President arrived in Singapore from the Maldives Thursday, according to AFP reporters, a day after he escaped to the atoll nation.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, his wife Ioma and their two bodyguards were on board the Saudia airline plane, which landed at Singapore’s Changi Airport at 7.17 p.m. local time (4.47 p.m. - India time). - AFP

5.15 p.m.

Sri Lanka’s parliament will not convene on Friday: Speaker’s office

Sri Lanka’s parliament will not convene on Friday as announced earlier, the Speaker’s office said on Thursday.

The next date for the country’s parliament to meet will be announced within the next three days if President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resigation letter is received by the Speaker today, the Speaker’s office said in a statement.

The Speaker had earlier said that parliament would meet on Friday. - Reuters

5.03 p.m.

Sri Lankan Army asks protestors to desist from violence or face consequences

The Sri Lankan Army on Thursday urged the anti-government protesters to desist from violence immediately or be prepared to face the “consequences”, warning that the security forces are “legitimately empowered” to exercise force.

At least 84 people were hospitalised when protesters clashed with the security forces at the prime minister’s office and at the main access junction to Parliament on Wednesday after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country. The police fired tear gas and water cannons at the mob who were trying to break barriers and enter the restricted zone. - PTI

4.54 p.m.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, Basil won’t leave Sri Lanka until SC hears petition, their lawyers say

Sri Lanka’s former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and ex-finance minister Basil Rajapaksa on Thursday gave an undertaking to the country’s Supreme Court through their lawyers that they will not leave the crisis-hit country until the Fundamental Rights petition filed against them is heard on Friday, a media report said on Thursday.

A five-judge bench of Lankan Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena, Justice Vijith Malalgoda, and Justice L.T.B. Dehideniya are scheduled to hear on Friday the petition against the two members of the erstwhile powerful Rajapaksa family, the Daily Mirror Lanka website reported.

A petition was filed in the apex court as Basil Rajapaksa, the younger brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was earlier on Tuesday turned back at the Colombo airport as he attempted to leave the country through the VIP terminal.

Basil, 71, tried to leave the bankrupt island nation a day before Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives from where he appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the acting President, escalating political crisis and triggering a fresh wave of protests in the country reeling under the worst financial crisis in decades. - PTI

4.43 p.m.

Protesters abandon seized palace with Sri Lanka in limbo

Sri Lankan protesters began to retreat from government buildings they had seized and military troops reinforced security at the Parliament on Thursday, establishing a tenuous calm in a country in both economic meltdown and political limbo.

Embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled a day earlier under pressure from protesters furious over the island nation’s economic collapse. But he failed to resign as promised — and further angered the crowds by making his prime minister acting leader. - AP

3.45 p.m.

Sri Lanka shares close lower as industrials fall

Sri Lankan shares ended lower on Thursday, snapping three consecutive sessions of gains, weighed down by losses in industrial and financial stocks.

At the close of trade, the Colombo Stock Exchange All-Share index was 0.64% down at 7,318.24. The Sri Lankan stock market was closed on Wednesday for a holiday.

Conglomerate Expolanka Holdings and LOLC Development Finance Plc were the top losers on the index, falling 2.8% and 9.1% respectively. - Reuters

3.00 p.m.

Sri Lanka army says soldiers authorised to use necessary force to prevent destruction of property and life

Sri Lankan soldiers had been authorised to use necessary force to prevent destruction of property and life, the country’s army said in a statement on Thursday.  - Reuters

2.00 p.m.

Read: Modi government distances itself from Rajapaksas in latest twist to see-saw relationship

Distancing itself from the Rajapaksa family that has been pushed out of power by angry protestors in Sri Lanka, the government made it clear that it has not offered outgoing President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, his brother and former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, and others who may wish to flee Sri Lanka, any support. New Delhi is watching the situation in Colombo closely, even as efforts get underway for the Sri Lanka Parliament to elect the next President next week.

The Indian High Commission said it “categorically denies baseless and speculative media reports that India facilitated the recent reported travel” of Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mr. Basil Rajapaksa.

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1.20 p.m.

Anti-government protesters to hand back iconic govt buildings to authorities

Sri Lanka’s anti-government demonstrators on Thursday decided to vacate some of the iconic administrative buildings, including the President’s House and the Prime Minister’s Office, they have been occupying since April 9.

“We are peacefully withdrawing from all buildings except the old parliament (president’s office) and Galle Face (the continuous protest site). We will continue to remain in these places, we will continue to protest until we reach our goals,” a spokesperson for the group told reporters.

The government building includes the President’s house, Presidential Secretariat and the Prime Minister’s Office. - PTI

12.40 p.m.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa flies out to Singapore: Top source

File picture of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe during the latter’s oath taking ceremony in May.

File picture of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe during the latter’s oath taking ceremony in May. | Photo Credit: AP

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has been in Maldives since Wednesday morning, boarded a flight to Singapore at 11.39 a.m. Male time, a top source told The Hindu.

Despite promising to resign on July 13, Mr. Gotabaya stayed in office, appointing his Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe as acting president, in a blatant defiance of persisting calls for both their resignations. It remains to be seen if Mr. Gotabaya will resign on Thursday, after making at least three announcements to do so in the last five days.

The developments come when Sri Lanka faces a grave economic crisis and political tumult. - Meera Srinivasan

12.10 p.m.

Fresh curfew imposed until July 15 morning

The Sri Lankan government has released a statement that said a fresh curfew is being imposed from 12 noon on July 14 to 5 a.m. on July 15. - Reuters

11.30 p.m.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena seeks Gotabaya’s resignation

Sri Lankan Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Thursday informed Gotabaya Rajapaksa that he should submit his letter of resignation as the President as soon as possible.

On Wednesday, the Parliament Speaker said that the President in a telephone conversation had informed that he would tender his letter of resignation during the day, before midnight. However, he has not done it yet.

Speaker Abeywardena said that he informed President Rajapaksa to submit his letter of resignation as soon as possible, citing that he too is under pressure, News First Lanka reported on Thursday.

He said that since an acting President has been appointed, the Office of the Speaker is exploring the legal provisions to consider the option of “have vacated his post” if the President does not tender in his letter of resignation, the report added. - PTI

10.50 a.m.

U. N. chief asks Sri Lankan leaders to ensure peaceful, democratic transition

U. N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said he is following the situation in Sri Lanka very closely and has urged all party leaders to “embrace the spirit of compromise” for a peaceful and democratic transition.

“I continue to follow the situation in Sri Lanka very closely. It is important that the root causes of the conflict and protestors’ grievances are addressed. I urge all party leaders to embrace the spirit of compromise for a peaceful and democratic transition,” Guterres said in a tweet on Wednesday.

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10 a.m.

Sri Lankan authorities lift curfew

Protesters attempt to break the gate of the Prime Minister’s office during an uprising seeking the ouster of Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe amidst the ongoing economic crisis

Protesters attempt to break the gate of the Prime Minister’s office during an uprising seeking the ouster of Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe amidst the ongoing economic crisis | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sri Lankan authorities on Thursday lifted the curfew, which was imposed in the Western province after the eruption of violence in Colombo.

At least 84 people were hospitalised when protesters clashed with the security forces at the prime minister’s office and at the main access junction to Parliament since mid-afternoon on Wednesday after Mr. Rajapaksa fled the country. The police fired tear gas and water cannons at the mob who were trying to break barriers and enter the restricted zone.

The police spokesman Nihal Thalduwa said protesters had grabbed a T56 firearm and 60 bullets from a Sri Lanka Army soldier. A police complaint had been lodged, the police said. Authorities had to impose a curfew in the Western province following the eruption of violence. - PTI

9.45 a.m.

Opinion | In Sri Lanka, no quiet after the storm

“The dramatic events in Sri Lanka, between July 9 and July 13, are of extraordinary significance. The political family that has ruled Sri Lanka for over 15 years has been ousted from power by an uninterrupted peaceful protest movement of ordinary citizens,” writes Jayadeva Uyangoda, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, University of Colombo.

“These developments have opened the doors for a new phase of post-authoritarian politics in Sri Lanka. It may well be called the post-Rajapaksa phase. The key feature of this new phase is the restoration of democracy. There is massive public demand for a return to democracy through the enactment of a new constitution. Abolishing Sri Lanka’s much-hated executive presidential system of government through a comprehensive package of political reforms will have to be a priority in the policy agenda of any new government.”

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9.20 a.m.

Latest updates from The Hindu correspondent in Colombo

1. President yet to send resignation letter, says Speaker

2. President yet to leave Maldives, reportedly

3. Citizen in fuel queue yet to get petrol, evidently

9.10 a.m.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa still in Maldives, awaits private jet to depart for Singapore: Report

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa could not board a scheduled Singapore Airlines flight from Male to Singapore due to security concerns and is now waiting to travel on a private aircraft, according to a media report on Thursday.

Mr. Rajapaksa, his wife Loma and their two security officers were expected to leave for Singapore on board SQ437 from Male on Wednesday night but did not board the aircraft due to security concerns, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported.

He instead will now await to travel on a private aircraft, the newspaper said quoting sources. Talks are now ongoing to secure a private aircraft for the embattled Sri Lankan President to depart from the Maldives to Singapore, it said. - PTI

8 a.m.

U. S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka urges for peaceful transfer of power

U. S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung urged Sri Lanka’s political fraternity to ensure peaceful transfer of power and called for the rule of law to be upheld in the crisis-hit island nation.

“We urge all parties to approach this juncture with a commitment to the betterment of the nation and to work quickly to implement solutions that will bring long-term economic & political stability,” Chung said in a tweet.

July 13

Video of protesters occupying Presidential Secretariat

The Hindu correspondent Meera Srinivasan shares visuals of protesters who occupied the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo:

July 13

The rise and fall of Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Before he fled Sri Lanka on July 13, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the last of six members of the country's most influential family still clinging to power.

His departure comes four days after massive crowds broke into his official residence and occupied his seaside office, and he pledged to leave the country. Protesters also stormed the residence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has said he will leave once a new government is in place.

Get a closer look at the rise and fall of Mr. Rajapaksa:

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July 13

Sri Lankan troops stand by as protestors occupy PM’s office

Sri Lankan troops stood with their weapons lowered in the grounds of the prime minister’s office on Wednesday, doing nothing to halt the huge mass of people wandering through the compound, despite orders to “restore order”.

Some of the civilians sang or waved the Sri Lankan flag, with its motif of a golden lion brandishing a sword, after they lobbed back tear gas canisters and pushed past elite commandos on Wednesday to occupy the premises in the capital Colombo.

Thousands of people cheered as they breached the walls of the colonial-era compound on a leafy boulevard, opening yet another symbol of state power to the public.

The office was the fourth government building occupied by protesters in as many days, following the seizure of the president’s seafront office and the official residences of Sri Lanka’s two most senior elected officials. - AFP

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2022 2:38:05 am |