Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn-in as the acting President of the island nation on Friday until the House elects a successor to Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Rajapaksa, currently in Singapore, emailed his resignation to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, who said today that he accepted his resignation, which he received late on Thursday.
Rajapaksa's resignation came two days after the embattled leader fled to the Maldives and then flew to Singapore in the face of massive protests against his government for mishandling the economy that bankrupted the country.
Meanwhile, upon becoming the acting President, Wickremesinghe pledged to maintain law and order in the country which has witnessed massive anti-government protests and occupation of key government buildings. He also took some major decisions and informed the Parliament about them.
Here are the key decisions taken by Wickremesinghe:
1. He said as acting President his first task would be to revive the 19th amendment to the Constitution. A draft would soon be prepared for its restoration. The 19A adopted in 2015 pruned presidential powers by empowering Parliament above the executive president. Wickremesinghe was the main sponsor of the 19th Amendment in 2015. However, the 19A was scrapped after Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the November 2019 presidential election.
2. He said that the armed forces have been given the powers and the freedom to deal with any acts of violence and sabotage. "I am one hundred per cent supportive of peaceful demonstrations. There is a difference between rioters and protesters," he said. He added that true protesters would not resort to unleashing violence. Also, he said a special committee has been appointed consisting of Chief of Defence Staff, Inspector General of Police and the commanders of the three armed forces. "They have been given full freedom to take legal action without any political interference," he added.
3. Wickremesinghe said as the acting President he has decided to prohibit the use of the word 'His Excellency' when addressing the President.
4. He also said that the presidential flag will be abolished as the country must gather around only one flag, which is the national flag.
(With agency inputs)