Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has resigned after protests over the island nation’s worsening economic crisis turned deadly.

In a statement on Monday, his office said he was quitting in order to help form an interim, unity government, following weeks of sometimes violent protests across the country over shortages of fuel and other vital imports and spiraling prices.

Earlier, a government official said Rajapaksa, who has dominated Sri Lankan politics for nearly 20 years and whose government crushed the Tamil Tigers to bring an end to a long civil war, has sent his letter of resignation to the president.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the prime minister’s younger brother.

Rajapaksa’s spokesman Rohan Weliwita said the 76-year-old leader sent his resignation to clear the way for a “new unity government” suggested by the president to fight the country’s worst economic crisis since independence from the British rule in 1948.