Tens of thousands of demonstrators besieged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on Saturday, demanding his resignation. The head of state fled moments before the protesters occupied the presidential palace courtyard. People have been demanding the resignation of the President from his residence. Later, they went to the Prime Minister’s residence and set it on fire. Finally, the president — whose whereabouts are unclear — announced his resignation on July 13.
The president will step down next week
Update 21:45 President Gotabaya Rajapaksa agreed to step down on Saturday. He says he will do it next week, Wednesday, July 13, and that the reason he didn’t make the gesture immediately is because he wants to ensure a “peaceful” handover of power.
The announcement by the speaker of parliament on public television came hours after the head of state was forced to leave his residence, which was occupied by a crowd of protesters and followed by massive demonstrations in Colombo over the disaster crisis. Country, AFP reports, taken by Agerpres
“The president has said he will step down on July 13 to ensure a peaceful transition,” Parliament Speaker Mahinda Abeywardhana told public television on Saturday.
According to a source, the Singaporean president boarded a military vessel and headed for the island’s southern territorial waters.
Two of the president’s relatives had already resigned without waiting for the announcement: press service chief Sudeva Hettiarachi and media minister Bandula Gunawardena also retired as president’s party leadership.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had called an emergency government meeting and invited the leaders of non-governmental political parties. He has said that he is ready to resign to pave the way for the formation of a national unity government. But this was not enough to quell the anger of the protesters, who in the evening besieged and set ablaze his residence in his absence.
Once a middle-income country with a standard of living envied by India, Sri Lanka has been hit hard by the collapse of the tourism sector following the 2019 jihadist attacks and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister’s house caught fire
Update 19:10 Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s home has been set on fire following clashes between protesters and police outside his home in Colombo. The protesters eventually broke into the property and set it on fire.
Where is the president?
As the protests continue, nothing is known about the whereabouts of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who left his official residence shortly before his property in the nation’s capital, Colombo.
Rajapaksa was taken to safety after a crowd gathered in front of the door. According to a high-ranking military source, he is said to be housed in an army unit, AFP news agency quoted him as saying. BBC.
However, a local BBC reporter says no one knows where the president is. There are reports that Rajapakse is trying to flee Sri Lanka and is at the airport.
Other sources said he was at the port of Colombo after two ships were seen loading some travel supplies, indicating the departure of the President.
One thing is certain: the protesters will not leave the presidential residence until the head of state resigns and there is a certain political stability, the BBC writes.
The Prime Minister agreed to resign
Update 15:55 Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the President have agreed to step down after parliamentary party leaders demanded their resignation.
Prime Minister Dinook Kolambake’s spokesman said Wickremesinghe told parliamentarians he would resign when all parties agreed to form a new government.
People entered the President’s house and bathed in the pool
Update 14.20. Images of the live stream posted on YouTube showed people entering the presidential palace chanting and demanding his resignation.
Pictures posted on social media showed tens of thousands of people gathering in front of the president’s residence trying to enter.
People were filmed and photographed as they bathed in the swimming pool at the Presidential Palace.
The government convened an emergency meeting
After Gotabaya Rajapaksa left his official residence, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe convened an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss a “quick solution” to the current political crisis.
Wickremesinghe, who would be next in line if Rajapaksa resigns, called on political party leaders to attend the meeting and urgently convene parliament to discuss the crisis, his office said in a statement.
The president fled before protesters stormed his residence
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled his official residence in Colombo on Saturday minutes before he was attacked by protesters demanding his resignation, Agerpres reported, a security source told AFP.
“The president has been taken to a safe place,” the source said. “He’s still the president, he’s protected by the military,” he added.
Local television channels broadcast images of hundreds of people climbing the fences of the presidential palace in the center of the capital.
Tens of thousands of people had previously rallied to demand the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is believed to be responsible for Sri Lanka’s unprecedented economic crisis.
Police raided Friday’s rally to quell the riots, removing hundreds of protesters by truck from the police chief.
The ban was largely ignored by protesters, some of whom forced railway officials to board trains to Colombo on Saturday, local officials told AFP.
At least 21 people, including two police officers, were injured and hospitalized during the protests, Reuters reported, citing hospital sources.
Author: IC | LP
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