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Sri Lankan President, Rajapaksa, to resign after residence stormed by protesters

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has announced that he will be stepping down after protesters stormed his official residence and set the prime minister's house on fire. 

Hundreds of protesters arose in Colombo, demanding for President Rajapaksa to resign after constant protests over his alleged economic mismanagement. Neither the PM nor the president were in their respective residences at the time of the invasion.

Following this, Mr Rajapaksa had agreed to step down from his position on the 13 of July. The Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament stated that the president decided to step down to ensure peaceful handover of power and has requested the public to be respectful of the law.

After Rapajapaksa, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also agreed to resign. The announcement of resignations had triggered celebratory fireworks in the city while Sri Lankan political leaders hold further meetings to discuss the transition of power. 

Sri Lanka's military has appealed to its people to cooperate with security forces to maintain order. One protester, Fiona Sirmana, who was protesting at the president's house, said it was time "to get rid of the president and the prime minister and to have a new era for Sri Lanka".

Dozens of people were injured in the Saturday protests, and a spokesperson for Colombo's major hospital stated that three people were being treated for gunshot wounds.

Sri Lanka is amid the country's worst economic crisis in 70 years. It has run out of foreign currency and has had to impose a ban on petrol and diesel for private vehicles, leading to nightmarish queues for fuel.

The extraordinary events of Saturday appeared to be the culmination of months of mainly peaceful protests in Sri Lanka as large crowds descended on the official residence of President Rajapaksa, sloganeering and waving the national flag before breaking through the barricades and trespassing into the property.

Captured footage shows people roaming through the house, swimming in the president's pool, while others can be seen emptying out chests of drawers, picking through the president's belongings and using  his luxurious bathroom.

The contrast between the luxury of the house and the hardships endured by the country's 22 million people was visible to the protesters. After a day of fury and violence, the two senior leaders of the country agreed to step down from power.

The news sparked celebrations at the main protest site in Colombo as firecrackers were set off in many parts of the city. Some have been singing and playing musical instruments, celebrating.

Mr Rajapaksa vacated his official residence on Friday ahead of the planned protests for precautionary measures as reported by defense ministry officials.  The president's current whereabouts are unknown.

Protesters also set fire to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe's private home in an affluent neighbourhood of Colombo. The prime minister lives with his family in the private home and uses his official residence for official business only.

He had said earlier that he was willing to resign to ensure the safety of civilians and to make way for an all-party government. Whether or not the president and the prime minister's resignations will be enough to appease the protesters is not clear.

After Saturday's events, the United States urged the Sri Lankan leadership to resolve the country's economic crisis.

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Tags: #political #humanitarian #global #srilanka #protests


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