Embattled Sri Lanka President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has finally resigned after days of protest by Sri Lankans.
According to AFP, Rajapaksa’s emailed resignation would be examined before a formal announcement – expected on Friday – is made, the speaker’s spokesman Indunil Yapa said.
Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka on Wednesday after protesters overran his palace on the weekend, heading first to the Maldives and then Singapore.
“The authenticity and the legality of the e-mail will have to be checked out” before being formally accepted, Yapa stated.
Rajapaksa would be the first president to resign since Sri Lanka adopted a presidential system of government in 1978.
A small but jubilant crowd, some waving the national flag, danced and chanted in celebration outside the presidential secretariat as news of the resignation broke.
“This is a monumental victory,” said protester Harinda Fonseka. “But it is only a first step.”
Under Sri Lanka’s constitution, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe — whose resignation is also being demanded by protesters — would automatically become acting president until parliament can appoint a successor.
Rajapaksa, his wife Ioma and their two bodyguards arrived in Singapore from Male on board a Saudia airline flight.
As president, Rajapaksa enjoyed immunity from arrest, and he is understood to have wanted to go abroad before stepping down to avoid the possibility of being detained.
The former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed is believed to have played a behind-the-scenes role in getting him out of the country, and said Rajapaksa feared he would be killed if he remained.
“I believe the President would not have resigned if he were still in Sri Lanka, and fearful of losing his life,” Nasheed tweeted.
Singapore’s foreign ministry confirmed Rajapaksa had been allowed to enter the city-state for a “private visit”, adding: “He has not asked for asylum and neither has he been granted any asylum.”
He is expected to look to stay in Singapore for some time, according to Sri Lankan security sources, before potentially moving to the United Arab Emirates.
Rajapaksa is accused of mismanaging the island nation’s economy to a point where it has run out of foreign exchange to finance even the most essential imports, leading to severe hardships for its 22 million people, with four out of five Sri Lankans skipping meals.