New Delhi, July 9
Thousands of anti-government protesters stormed into the President's House on Saturday forcing President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee with his family for an unknown destination while Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s house was set on fire by the protesters as Sri Lanka slid further deeper into the economic morass.
Before protesters went on a rampage in his residence, Wickremesinghe attended an all-party meeting where he offered to resign to make way for a unity government.
At least 45 people were injured in baton charges by security forces in the Fort area but the crowds kept on swelling and finally breached the barricades to enter the President’s House.
Protesters also clashed with the railway authorities in Galle, Kandy, and Matara while forcing authorities to operate trains to Colombo. The organisers of the movement ‘Whole country to Colombo' said people walking to join protesters at Colombo Fort could now go by trains.
Gotabaya was using the President's House as his residence and office since protesters came to occupy the entrance to his office in early April.
Gotabaya’s whereabouts were unknown amidst rumours that he had fled for the safety of a Navy ship. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens made themselves comfortable in the President’s plush residence.
Video footage showed some of them trying out the beds and sofas while others took a dip in the Olympic-size swimming pool.
The PM's Media Division said Wickremesinghe will resign after an all-party government is established and the majority is secured in Parliament. Wickremesinghe was appointed PM after anti-government protests forced the resignation of then PM Mahinda Rajapaksa, the elder brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in May.
Interestingly, Mahinda also fled to the safety of a naval port after protesters torched his ancestral home and brought down the statue of his father.
Opposition parties said both the President and PM must resign and Speaker Abeywardena should become acting president as per the Constitution.
The Opposition is opposed to Wickremesinghe becoming interim President as neither was he elected by the people nor could he win his seat in the parliamentary election held in August 2020.
Leaders of several opposition parties have also called for Rajapaksa to resign.
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