As President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled amid the demand of resignation, thousands of protestors entered the presidential palace and took a dip inside the swimming pool reserved for the president and his immediate family.
Where some protestors were seen enjoying the pool party, few went inside the president’s gym to flex their muscles. The protestors didn’t stop there. They even entered the kitchen and tasted the food kept for the president and his staff.
It was the country’s most chaotic day in months of political turmoil, Sri Lanka’s president and prime minister agreed to resign on Saturday with protesters storming both officials’ homes and setting fire to one of the buildings in a rage over the nation’s severe economic crisis.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he would leave office once a new government is in place, and hours later the speaker of Parliament, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, announced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would step down on Wednesday. Pressure on both leaders grew as the economic meltdown set off acute shortages of essential items, leaving people struggling to buy food, fuel and other necessities.
Thousands of people massed in the capital Colombo to demand the government take responsibility for mismanaging the nation’s finances.
Police use water canon and tear gas to disperse the protesters in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, July 9, 2022. (AP Photo)
Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka reminded Chinese nationals on Saturday not to participate in or watch any protests after protesters broke into the Sri Lankan prime minister’s private residence and set it on fire, hours after he agreed to resign.
PROTESTERS STORM PRESIDENTIAL PALACE
After storming the gates of the presidential palace, a throng of protesters walked through its rooms, with some among the boisterous crowd jumping into the compound’s pool.
#WATCH | As the economic crisis in Sri Lanka triggers nationwide unrest, protestors stormed the premises of the presidential palace in the capital Colombo, earlier today#SriLankaCrisis
(Source: Reuters) pic.twitter.com/zFAsj3qPhw
— ANI (@ANI) July 9, 2022
At around the same time, the leader had boarded a naval craft at the Colombo port and was taken to the island’s southern waters, where he let it be known he was finally bowing to months of calls for his resignation.
Protesters sing and dance after storming in at the Sri Lankan president official residence, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, July, 9, 2022. (AP Photo)
Protestors are using treadmill at the Gym inside Sri Lanka PM residence. pic.twitter.com/JVQx5Z8HiX
— Real Mac Report (@RealMacReport) July 9, 2022
Rajapaksa had to be extracted from his residence by troops who fired into the air to keep the crowd outside at bay.
Protesters storm in at the Sri Lankan president’s official residence, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, July, 9, 2022. (AP Photo)
PM RANIL WICKREMESINGHE’S RESIGNATION
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called a meeting with political leaders and said he was willing to step down to pave the way for a unity government.
Protesters gathered outside Sri Lankan PM house (Photo: ANI)
But that failed to placate protesters, who stormed the premier’s private residence and set it alight after night fell.
#SriLanka Crisis | PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s private home set afire, angry mob takes to streets. Watch for the latest updates.#EconomicCrisis | @PoulomiMSaha, @exfrotezter pic.twitter.com/LwrJjncgOc
— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) July 9, 2022
SRI LANKAN MP ATTACKED
Amid the protests, Sri Lanka MP Rajitha Senaratne was attacked by protesters as agitation erupted on the streets. In the video, Rajitha Senaratne was seen being heckled and punched by the protestors from all sides.
Colombo | In a viral video, SJB MP Rajitha Senaratne attacked by protesters as agitation erupts on the streets amid the ongoing economic crisis.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has reportedly fled the country pic.twitter.com/A09tBsPmi7
— ANI (@ANI) July 9, 2022
PM’S RESIDENCE SET ABLAZE
Protestors marched towards the official residence of Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, prompting police to use tear gas and water cannon against them. According to local reports, journalists were attacked by the security forces of Wickremesinghe.
Protesters stand on a vandalised police water canon truck and shout slogans in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, July 9, 2022. (AP Photo)
After reports of journalists being attacked came to the fore, crowds marched towards Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s residence and set it on fire. Police fired tear gas on crowds marching to Ranil Wickeremesinghe’s home.
Rajapaksa appointed Wickremesinghe as prime minister in May in the hope that the career politician would use his diplomacy and contacts to resuscitate a collapsed economy. But people’s patience wore thin as shortages of fuel, medicine and cooking gas only increased and oil reserves ran dry. Authorities have also temporarily shuttered schools.
The country is relying on aid from India and other nations as leaders try to negotiate a bailout with the International Monetary Fund. Wickremesinghe said recently that negotiations with the IMF were complex because Sri Lanka was now a bankrupt state.
Sri Lanka announced in April that it was suspending repayment of foreign loans due to a foreign currency shortage. Its total foreign debt amounts to $51 billion, of which it must repay $28 billion by the end of 2027.
(With inputs from agencies)
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