.Protesters in Colombo celebrated the news that Rajapaksa handed in his resignation [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has submitted a letter of resignation to the speaker of Sri Lanka’s parliament, a spokesperson for the speaker said, hours after he fled to Singapore.
The announcement triggered jubilation in the commercial capital Colombo where protesters massed outside the presidential secretariat, defying a city-wide curfew.
Crowds set off firecrackers, shouted slogans and danced ecstatically at the Gota Go Gama protest site, named mockingly after Rajapaksa’s first name.
“The whole country will celebrate today,” Damitha Abeyrathne, an activist, said. “It’s a big victory.”
“We never thought we would get this country free from them,” she added, referring to the Rajapaksa family who dominated the South Asian country’s politics for two decades.
“The authenticity and the legality of the e-mail will have to be checked out before being formally accepted”, spokespeson Indunil Yapa told the AFP news agency on Thursday.
Rajapaksa submitted his resignation by email late on Thursday and it would become official on Friday, once the document had been legally verified, the speaker’s spokesperson said.
Rajapaksa landed in Singapore on Thursday after fleeing mass protests over his country’s economic meltdown. He travelled on to Singapore on a Saudi airline flight, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Rajapaksa was with his wife Ioma and their two bodyguards. A passenger on the flight, who declined to be named, told Reuters news agency that Rajapaksa was met by a group of security guards and was seen leaving the airport VIP area in a convoy of black vehicles.
Airline staff on the flight told Reuters that the president dressed in black and flew business class, describing him as “quiet” and “friendly