Sri Lankan president resigns after fleeing country, Parliament to start search for replacement

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned Thursday after feeling the country amid an economic crisis in the country.

Sri Lanka’s Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeyweardana made the announcement Friday. The country’s Parliament will convene on Saturday to begin the process of selecting a new president. The country hopes to have a new president within the next seven days.

Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka Wednesday after protesters swarmed his home and other government offices. The protesters accuse Rajapaksa of stealing money from the government for years. They also accuse his administration of mismanaging the economy causing it to collapse. Rajapaksa has acknowledged that some of his policies contributed to the meltdown.

FILE- Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa sings the national anthem of Sri Lanka during the country’s Independence Day celebration in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Feb. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, file)

Months of protests reached a frenzied peak over the weekend when demonstrators stormed the president’s home and office and the official residence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. On Wednesday, they seized Wickremesinghe’s office.

SRI LANKA PRESIDENT FLEES COUNTRY, PROTESTERS STORM PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE AS STATE OF EMERGENCY IS DECLARED

The demonstrators initially vowed to hold those places until a new government was in place, but the movement shifted tactics Thursday, apparently concerned that any escalation in violence could undermine their message following clashes the previous night outside the Parliament that left dozens injured.

Army officers stand guard as people throng President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official residence for the second day after it was stormed in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on July 11.

Army officers stand guard as people throng President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official residence for the second day after it was stormed in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on July 11.
(AP/Rafiq Maqbool)

Rajapaksa’s replacement would serve as president for the remainder of his term, which ends in 2024. The new leader could potentially select a new prime minister, who Parliament would have to approve.

ECONOMIC PROTESTS RAGE WORLDWIDE AS CHALLENGES FROM INFLATION, UKRAINE WAR, CORONAVIRUS MOUNT

The country of about 22 million people is undergoing a severe foreign exchange shortage, which has limited essential imports of fuel, food and medicine. The shortage has pushed the island into its worst financial situation in 70 years.

Protesters demanding the resignation of Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa swim in a pool inside the compound of Sri Lanka's Presidential Palace in Colombo on July 9, 2022. 

Protesters demanding the resignation of Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa swim in a pool inside the compound of Sri Lanka’s Presidential Palace in Colombo on July 9, 2022. 
(AFP via Getty Images)

Sri Lanka has not been receiving fuel shipments in recent weeks, forcing school closures and limiting petrol and diesel for essential services. Residents are skipping meals to line up for hours for scarce fuel.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

And the nation’s inflation levels are soaring. Sri Lanka’s inflation reached 54.6% in June.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.