Conflicts & War

Calm reigns in Colombo after mass protests to oust president

Colombo, Jul 10 (EFE).- Calm reigned in the Sri Lankan capital on Sunday, as Colombo’s streets were deserted and its shops closed a day after thousands of protesters stormed into official buildings to demand the resignation of the country’s president.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has come under fire in recent months for his handling of the economic crisis in the island country, announced Saturday night that he would resign on Wednesday, the speaker of the country’s parliament, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said.

Hours earlier, prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also tendered his resignation and called for the formation of a national unity government.

Images on television and social media showed protesters enjoying the amenities at the lavish presidential mansion, including the swimming pool and well-equipped gym.

Protesters also set fire to the prime minister’s private residence in Colombo.

On Sunday morning, locals could be seen strolling through the presidential home, with some having spent the night there.

“I felt happy when we got the news that the president will resign. That is why we were here for months. Now we are here playing cards in his house,” 18-year-old Prabath Sandurwan told EFE.

The police used tear gas and charged against the protesters on Saturday in an attempt to contain them, injuring some journalists who were covering the events.

A source from the Colombo National Hospital, who requested anonymity, told EFE that 103 people injured during the protests had been admitted.

“The rumors that two people died at the protest are not true,” the source said.

Sri Lanka is facing one of the worst economic crises since its independence in 1948 due to a fall in foreign currency reserves and massive debt.

Tensions escalated on the island at the end of March, when the authorities imposed 13-hour long power cuts, which triggered protests calling for the government to step down.

Since then, hundreds of protesters have occupied the vicinity of the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo and peaceful protests across the island nation have become commonplace as authorities try to secure a bailout package from the IMF. EFE


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