Sri Lankan protesters Swimming inside the President’s House in Colombo [Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters]


Sri Lanka President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has fled the royal palace after aggrieved protesters overran the country’s presidential residence on Saturday.

With the 20-million populated island suffering an unprecedented economic crisis, hundreds of protesters stormed the royal palace blaming Rajapaksa’s mismanagement of office, as the reason for the current hardship. There were also calls for him to resign immediately.

The situation seem far from over with protesters making their way into his nearby office and occupying the compound rooms; others took to the residence pool relaxatively. At least three people have reportedly been shot and thirty-six others hospitalized for inhaling fumes from tear gas. Although, a presidential vehicle convoy was spotted at Sri Lanka’s main international airport, it is yet to be confirmed if President Rajapaksa has left the country altogether.

Colombo’s administrative district now swims with protesting Sri Lankans who remain incognizant of security forces. Troops had also failed to disperse protesters from the presidential palace as stated earlier.

An anonymous defense source confirmed that the president is well protected.

‘The president was escorted to safety.. He is still the president, he is being protected by a military unit,’ he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is next in line if Rajapaksa resigns, has called for a meeting with the current government cabinet. This he did to converse a ‘swift resolution’ to the political crisis in Sri Lanka. Recall that a curfew was withdrawn on Friday after rights activists, opposition parties and the bar association threatened to file a lawsuit against the Chief of Police.

Many Sri Lankans also defied the stay-at-home order swooping into the streets to voice their frustration.

‘The curfew was not a deterrent, in fact it encouraged more people to get on the streets in defiance.. Passengers had commandeered trains to reach Colombo,’ a defense official said.

In recent months, Sri Lankans have had to endure food and fuel shortages, unavailability of electricity and climbing inflation rates, following the exhaustion of foreign currency; which is needed to aid importation.

Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office has said that the President is ready to resign to make way for an all-party government as protesters storm the president’s residence.

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