World Affairs: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigns

Print edition : June 03, 2022

Mahinda Rajapaksa, a file photograph. Photo: DINUKA LIYANAWATTE/REUTERS

The resignation follows unrest and violence in Colombo, unleashed by Mahinda Rajapaksa’s supporters on peaceful protestors.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that he has tendered his resignation to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. “Effective immediately, I have tendered my resignation as Prime Minister to the President,” he announced in a tweet at 5.02 p.m. on May 9. The President has to accept the resignation for it to take effect.

The resignation follows serious unrest and violence in Colombo, unleashed by Mahinda Rajapaksa’s supporters on peaceful protestors. Nearly a hundred people were reported injured. The Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission condemned the violence and blamed the police for not preparing for this “eventuality.”

The resignation letter, written in Sinhala and signed but not dated, read (rough translation): “Covid, wars in Europe, and not-so-wise decisions of successive Sri Lankan governments after getting freedom has resulted in the current hardships faced by public. This is the most difficult period we faced in the recent past. Buddhist Monks, The Cardinal, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, political parties and civil organisations have suggested that the best option is forming an all-party interim government.

“As you requested in the Cabinet meeting on 6th May 2022, and according to the Constitution, I resign immediately so that steps can be taken to form an all-party interim government.

“I humbly state that I always wished the best for the public and ready to make even further sacrifices, and hope any suggested process will stop the people from suffering. And I also hope that all parties who suggested an all-party government will also be ready to face all the challenges the country might come to face.”

Responding to the resignation, M.A.Sumanthiran, the Tamil National Alliance leader, said: “Mahinda…must be arrested and brought before the law along with all others who organised and brought the attackers to Colombo today.”

In another move that further cripples the already embattled country, government and private sector workers’ trade unions announced that they will join the general strike protesting the attack on the peaceful agitators. The strike will hit port operations and is likely to have an impact on import and export of goods from India since a sizeable chunk of cargo transiting Colombo Port is either to or from India.

Meanwhile, the protesters made it clear that they will not withdraw their agitation until President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned from office. Angry protesters have destroyed or overturned buses, caught hold of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s supporters and beat them up and took out impromptu processions across the country with just one message: “Rajapaksas, Go Home.”