Just hours after announcing his resignation, the prime minister of Sri Lanka’s official residence was set on fire during massive protests over the country’s dire economic crisis.
As thousands of protesters broke police barricades to attack Rashtrapati Bhavan in Colombo on Saturday, Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that he would soon step down as PM.
In the hours that followed, unrest between protesters and police intensified outside the prime minister’s residence in the capital. In the footage too, flames and smoke can be seen coming out of the premises.
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Wickremesinghe’s office told the Associated Press that protesters forcibly entered his home on Saturday evening.
It was not immediately clear whether he was inside at the time of the attack.
Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on the other hand, fled the palace hours before a swarm of protesters, feasting in the palace kitchen and swimming in the pool.
A senior defense source told Agence France-Presse that Rajapaksa was taken to a safe place after protesters gathered outside the palace gate and a military unit was protecting him.
His whereabouts are currently unknown.
Wickremesinghe, who was appointed by the president in May, a role he had previously held five times without ever serving a full term, had previously said he would resign only if all parties agreed on a new government. , near his house, the mob demanded that he step down. immediately.
“Today in this country we have a fuel crisis, a food shortage, we have the head of the World Food Program coming here, and we have many matters to discuss with the IMF. So, if this government goes away, So there should be another government,” Wickremesinghe said.
In a dramatic resumption of anti-government protests that began in March, people from the island nation of 22 million boarded overcrowded buses and trains to descend in Colombo on Saturday to call on the president to step down.
Sri Lankan police attempted to use tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd, and a curfew was imposed on Friday night, which was withdrawn only hours later. A defense official suggested that the measure, branded illegal by lawyers and opposition politicians, only “encouraged more people to take to the streets in defiance”.
(with agency input)
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