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Sri Lankan Lawmakers to Choose New President, No Agreement on New Prime Minister 


Guests wear protective masks as they attend the presentation of the new government's policy statement during the inaugural session of the new Parliament, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Aug. 20, 2020.

Amid economic and political collapse, Sri Lankan lawmakers have agreed to choose a new president next week, but they have yet to decide on the makeup of a new government as the country deals with the crises.

Lawmakers have said they would elect a new president by July 20 to replace Gotabaya Rajapaksa, whose resignation is expected Wednesday. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also agreed to resign once a new government is established.

On Saturday, protesters stormed the residences of both President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and said they would remain on the properties until both resignations take effect.

People throng President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official residence for the second day after it was stormed in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 11, 2022.
People throng President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official residence for the second day after it was stormed in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 11, 2022.

They accuse the president and his family of stealing money from the government and sparking the economic collapse. The family denies the accusations, but Rajapaksa acknowledged some of his policies contributed to the meltdown.

FILE- Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa sings the country's national anthem during Independence Day celebrations in Colombo, Feb. 4, 2022.
FILE- Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa sings the country's national anthem during Independence Day celebrations in Colombo, Feb. 4, 2022.

Meanwhile, news reports say Rajapaksa and members of his family were blocked from leaving the country for the United Arab Emirates because he did not want to go through the regular customs checks at the airport, where staff refused to stamp his passport in a VIP lounge. According to the French news agency, a top defense source said Rajapaksa’s closest military aides were discussing the possibility of taking him and his entourage overseas aboard a naval patrol craft.

Sri Lanka, a nation of 22 million, is heavily in debt, making it unable to purchase basic goods on the global markets.

Reports also say people are skipping meals and lining up for hours to get fuel in the island nation.

Some information in this report comes from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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