Colombo, Jul 9 (EFE).- Hundreds of protesters stormed the Sri Lankan president’s official residence in Colombo on Saturday amid massive demonstrations demanding his resignation for his handling of the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.
Undeterred by the tear gas fired by the police, the protesters broke through police barricades around Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official residence in the heart of the Sri Lankan capital, the local Ada Derana reported.
The newspaper said that the president had fled the residence before the breach.
Some protesters shared live videos from inside the presidential home that showed hundreds of people chanting slogans in hallways and rooms.
At least twelve people have been injured, a spokesperson for the National Hospital of Sri Lanka told reporters.
Thousands of people from across the country gathered in Colombo on Saturday to mark the third consecutive month of protests to demand Rajapaksa’s resignation.
“We want change. We want this president to go,” said Lakmal Perera, a private-sector worker and one of hundreds of protesters near Galle Face Green, ground zero of the protests.
“Gotabaya is a madman”, “Gotabaya is scared” or “Gotabaya go home” were some of the slogans chanted by the protesters.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called for an emergency meeting of the leaders of the country’s political parties and also requested the speaker to summon parliament, his office said in a statement.
On Friday night, the authorities imposed a curfew in several parts of the Western Province, where the capital is located, after a protest march organized by university students.
However, the restrictions were lifted in the morning following criticism.
The Sri Lanka Bar Association said that the curfew was “clearly intended to stifle the freedom of expression and dissent.”
In a statement, the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, Justice Rohini Marasinghe, said that he was “alarmed” by the orders given by the Sri Lankan army to prepare troops to maintain law and order in the streets.
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 International Monetary Fund. EFE