However, while leaving the country, Gotabaya appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the acting president. This was a last desperate manoeuvre to keep some line of control over the State. Ranil Wickremesinghe had promised to resign as soon as an all-party government was put in place.
This was obviously a delaying tactic to remain as prime minister till Gotabaya resigned, as the constitution provides for the prime minister to become the acting president in the absence of the president.
Wickremesinghe assuming the acting presidentship has enraged the people who see him as equally culpable as Rajapaksa for the mess the country is in.
After all, Wickremesinghe who is the sole representative of his party, the UNP, in parliament was chosen by Gotabaya to head the cabinet after his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa was forced to resign on May 9. Wickramsinghe has covered himself in infamy by acting as a lackey of Rajapaksa, declaring an emergency, calling on the military to do whatever is necessary to restore order and accusing “fascist forces” of trying to take over power.
But the indomitable will of the people was once again on display and they will thwart this move too by the ruling class elite. The protesting people marched to the prime minister’s office and in a repeat of the July 9 occupations, they braved hundreds of tear gas shells and eventually broke through and occupied the office.