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Sri Lanka’s president ‘will not resign under any circumstances’ as protests kick off in parliament

A newly appointed Sri Lankan minister declared that embattled president Gotabaya Rajapaksa will not resign “under any circumstances” in a defiant address to parliament as protests continued to rumble across the South.

Addressing parliament this morning, Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said that “6.9 million people voted for the president".

"As a government, we are clearly saying the president will not resign under any circumstances,” he continued. “We will face this."

Later in the day, members of the opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) party have staged a protest inside the Parliament chambers, holding placards with the slogan #GOHOMEGOTA

Fernando was appointed highways minister on Monday, the day after Sri Lanka's entire cabinet - apart from prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa - quit. He initially began his political career with the United National Party (UNP), criticising then defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapkasa and telling him to ‘go back to the USA’ after the LTTE’s devastating 2007 attack on Katunayake air base.

He complained of receiving death threats shortly afterwards.

In 2009 however, Fernando defected to the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government led by then-Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa. He was rewarded with a post as Minister for Land Development and Ranaviru Welfare.

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