Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeyweardana said that the Parliament will convene on Saturday to start the process of electing a new president.

A protester sleeps under a statue in the compound of presidential secretariat in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, July 15, 2022.
A protester sleeps under a statue in the compound of presidential secretariat in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, July 15, 2022. (AP)

Sri Lanka's parliamentary speaker has said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's resignation had been accepted after the leader fled the country earlier this week.

"Gotabaya has legally resigned" with effect from Thursday, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana told reporters on Friday, after Rajapaksa notified the speaker from Singapore he was stepping down.

"From this point, we will move to constitutionally appoint a new president," the speaker Abeywardena added.

He expects to compete the process within seven days.

Rajapaksa fled the country Wednesday amid mounting protests for him to resign over an economic crisis.

Protesters who had occupied government buildings retreated Thursday, restoring a tenuous calm.

The protesters accuse Rajapaksa and his powerful political family of siphoning money from government coffers for years and his administration of hastening the country’s collapse by mismanaging the economy.

The family has denied the corruption allegations, but Rajapaksa acknowledged that some of his policies contributed to the meltdown.

READ MORE: Sri Lankan president steps down after arriving in Singapore

Protests

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.

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.

READ MORE: Sri Lanka protesters leave official buildings

Source: TRTWorld and agencies