President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa left the country on early hours of 13th July. Many were anticipating the news of his official resignation letter of vacating the office. As a result, a letter claiming to be President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official resignation letter was widely shared, which however didn’t even carry his signature!
On t14th July evening, the same letter got viral again, this time with a signature. However, our investigation revealed that both these were not the official letters and the Speaker’s spokesman confirmed that the official letter had been received and the statement regarding the same was made on 15th July.
Let’s have a look at the viral claims first
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The viral letter claiming to be President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s resignation letter said that Sri Lanka’s lack of foreign reserves had led to the economic recession and among the reasons which contributed to this downfall were the tourism sector that was crippled by the Easter attack, COVID19 pandemic , decrease in remittances from foreign workers, etc. In this purported letter, there was an apology for the failure of organic farming as well.
The letter shared in Sinhala with the full text can be seen below
However, as many had questioned the validity of such a letter as it didn’t carry the President’s signature
According to 38 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, one of the provisions for a President to vacate his office is by sending a letter under his signature, to the Speaker, as seen below.
We also asked Saliya Pieris P.C., the President – Bar Association of Sri Lanka, and he also confirmed the above condition.
Accordingly, since the signature of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is not found in the viral letter, it is not valid as a document with regards to vacating the office by the President.
We then asked the speaker’s spokesperson, Idunil Yapa Abeywardena, about the viral letter dated 13th July. On 14th July morning, he confirmed that the Speaker had not received any such letter from the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, till that time.
However, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa landed in Singapore on 14th July evening and it was reported that he had sent the letter of vacating the office, to the Speaker, through the Singapore Embassy in Sri Lanka. Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena confirmed the same and stated that the official announcement would be made on 15th July as reported here
Along with this news, the letter which got initially shared without a signature was viral once again among social media users, this time with the signature of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, as seen below.
We inquired the speaker’s media spokesperson Idunil Yapa Abeywardena again on these claims on 14th night and he confirmed that this is still not the official resignation letter of the President and that the official statement would be issued on the 15th July.
The President’s Media Unit also confirmed that the letter being shared on social media was not an official letter sent by President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to the Speaker. Here is statement issued by the President Media unit in this regard.
Here is the statement made by the Speaker on 15th July, confirming that he had received the resignation letter, and per the above provision given in 38 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had vacated his position as the president from 14th July.
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Our investigation revealed that both letters which got viral as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation letters were not official and fake. The Speaker’s spokesman as well as the President Media Unit had clarified these letters to be false.
Title:Fake Letter Viral as Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Resignation Letter !Fact Check By: Kalana Krishantha