Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s beleaguered president will not be resigning, his government’s whip has told parliament.
The declaration defies calls from the public and political opponents for Gotabaya Rajapaksa to step down amid the country’s economic crisis.
Crowds have protested for weeks over lengthy power cuts and shortages of gas, food and other basic goods.
The public anger has prompted nearly all Cabinet ministers to quit, and scores of MPs to leave his government.
Opposition MPs have also rejected his invite to form a national unity government, saying voters want the president and entire government to resign.
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But on Wednesday, Chief Government Whip Johnston Fernando told lawmakers: “As a responsible Government, we state President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will not resign from his post under any circumstances.”
On Tuesday night, Mr Rajapaksa lifted controversial state of emergency measures following further protests, the departure of several government lawmakers and the resignation of his finance minister.
The president had invoked the law – which allows the arrest of suspects without warrants – on 1 April after protests outside his house.
But he lifted them on Tuesday in an apparent concession to angry citizens. Earlier that day in parliament, 41 MPs had left the president’s ruling coalition to “represent themselves independently”. The implication of this is still unclear.
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from the UK in 1948.