Headless state: Political vacuum haunts Sri Lanka as crisis deepens

NEW DELHI: After his dramatic midnight escape to Maldives, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is planning to seek temporary refuge in Singapore along with his family members. He could fly to the south Asian nation as early as midnight.
In Singapore, Gotabaya is expected to step down from the post of President and pave the way for a successor who will inherit a financially-ravaged economy. The Sri Lankan Parliament will elect a new full-time president on July 20.

For now, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been named acting president and is facing the wrath of thousands of protesters who blame the government (particularly the Rajapaksas) for pushing the country into an economic mess.
Wickremesinghe imposed an emergency after assuming the charge and asked the armed forces to bring the situation in the country under control.
Earlier today, PM Wickremesinghe held a crucial meeting with the members of the cabinet and instructed Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to nominate a prime minister who is acceptable to both the government and opposition.
During the meeting, the opposition leaders said they want Wickremesinghe to step down as PM before Gotabaya resigns as the President.

Wickremesinghe has already said he is willing to step down but wants to install an all-party interim administration before he does.
Sri Lankan lawmakers are now expected to hold discussions to nominate a new PM.
But with a prime minister likely to quit anytime and a President on the run, Sri Lanka is effectively without an authoritarian figure people can turn to.

Even though the ruling and opposition parties are in a huddle to stitch together a leadership that could carry forward bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the political vacuum is certainly deafening. Especially at a time when the crisis-hit nation of 22 million people is in desperate need of credible leadership.

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