In the midst of the crisis, a mob of protesters stormed the president’s residence in Sri Lanka and the prime minister says he is resigning.

Colombo: Chief Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, On Saturday, he fled his country Official residence in Colombo minutes before that He was attacked by a crowd of protesters. who accuses him of being responsible for The deep economic crisis the country is going through And they want to remove him from power.

first Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Who is next in the line of succession if Rajapaksa resigns, He told his party leaders that he would resign when all parties agreed to form a new government, As announced by his spokesperson, Dinoc Columbage. His resignation and Rajapaksa’s resignation from political power were demanded, along with the protesters.

Take the chief to a safe place. A defense source told AFP. “The still the boss This source added that soldiers guarding the official residence fired in the air to discourage protesters from approaching until Rajapaksa was evacuated.

Local television networks showed pictures of Hundreds of people climb through the gates of the presidential palace, A colonial-era building, located by the sea and a symbol of power in Sri Lanka. Pictures recorded by mobile phones and circulated on social media showed a crowd in the fortified house and on the ground outside. some They entered the pond Others celebrated joyously in the halls of residence.

Hundreds of protesters, some carrying national flags, entered the president’s office in an adjacent building, according to television footage.

At least 34 people, including two police officers, were exposed wounds In skirmishes as protesters tried to enter the house. Two of the injured are in serious condition, while the others have minor injuries, according to a worker at Colombo National Hospital, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Demonstrators calling for the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa gather inside the Sri Lankan Presidential Palace complex in Colombo on July 9, 2022.Agence France-Presse – Agence France-Presse

Thousands of people flocked to the capital, Colombo, from the suburbs on Saturday after police lifted an overnight curfew. Faced with a scarcity of resources, many trains and buses crowded to get to the protests, while others arrived by bicycle on foot.

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Religious and protest leaders have called for the president’s resignation.

Government officials claimed that they were unaware of Rajapaksa’s intentions after his escape. “We are waiting for instructions”, A senior official told AFP. “We still don’t know where he is, but we do know that he is working with the Sri Lankan Navy and that he is safe.”

Tens of thousands of people had previously participated in a demonstration in Colombo for demanding Rajapaksa’s resignation, It is responsible for the unprecedented crisis that affected Sri Lanka and caused the hyperinflationas well as a Severe shortages of fuel, electricity and food.

Sri Lanka’s economy has collapsed and is trying to survive Aid from India and other countries While their leaders are trying Negotiating the bailout plan from the International Monetary Fund (International Monetary Fund). The economic disaster has caused severe shortages of basic materials and people are struggling to get food, fuel and other necessities.

Demonstrators calling for the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa gather inside the Sri Lankan Presidential Palace complex in Colombo on July 9, 2022.
Demonstrators calling for the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa gather inside the Sri Lankan Presidential Palace complex in Colombo on July 9, 2022.Agence France-Presse – Agence France-Presse

The crisis sparked protests for months and effectively disintegrated Rajapaksa political dynasty, who ruled Sri Lanka for most of the past two decades.

The president’s older brother resigned as prime minister in May after violent protests prompted him to seek refuge at a naval base. Three other relatives left their previous government positions. Much of the public anger focused on the Rajapaksa family, the protesters They are accused of bringing Sri Lanka into chaos due to mismanagement and alleged corruption.

Demonstrators calling for the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa gather inside the Sri Lankan Presidential Palace complex in Colombo on July 9, 2022.
Demonstrators calling for the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa gather inside the Sri Lankan Presidential Palace complex in Colombo on July 9, 2022.Agence France-Presse – Agence France-Presse

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe took over in May to help pull his country out of crisis. Meanwhile, Rajapaksa clung to power despite growing calls for him to step down.

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Protesters blamed Rajapaksa for the economic hardships and carried them on He camped for three months in front of his office building to demand his resignation.

The United Nations appreciates this, among other things 80% of the population skips meals to meet shortages and rising prices.

According to the authorities, about 20,000 soldiers and police were sent to Colombo to protect the president.

Demonstrators calling for the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa gather inside the Sri Lankan Presidential Palace complex in Colombo on July 9, 2022.
Demonstrators calling for the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa gather inside the Sri Lankan Presidential Palace complex in Colombo on July 9, 2022.Agence France-Presse – Agence France-Presse

Security forces were imposed on Friday curfew In an attempt to dissuade the protesters from taking to the streets. However, the measure was lifted after opposition parties, human rights activists and the country’s Bar Association threatened to sue the police chief.

The United Nations urged the Sri Lankan authorities and protesters to ensure this Saturday’s protests will be peaceful.

In May, nine people were killed and hundreds injured during the unrest in the country.

in the meantime, The government’s negotiations with the IMF are complicated because Sri Lanka entered the talks as a bankrupt country. Colombo announced in April that it would suspend international debt payments due to a shortage of foreign exchange. Its foreign debt is $51,000 million, of which it must repay $28,000 by the end of 2027.

This crisis, of unprecedented magnitude since the country’s independence in 1948, is attributed to covid-19 pandemicwhich has deprived the South Asian island of foreign exchange from the tourism sector and was exacerbated by a series of bad policy decisions, according to economists.

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Agence France-Presse and The Associated Press

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