General World

Sri Lanka: President Rajapaksa To Resign After Palace Stormed

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has announced he will step down after protesters stormed his official residence and set the prime minister’s house on fire.

Neither the PM nor the president were in the buildings.

Hundreds of thousands descended on the capital Colombo, calling for Mr Rajapaksa to resign after months of protests over economic mismanagement.

Mr Rajapaksa will step down on 13 July. PM Wickremesinghe has agreed to resign.

Parliamentary speaker Mahinda Abeywardana said the president decided to step down “to ensure a peaceful handover of power”.

“I therefore request the public to respect the law and maintain peace,” he said.

Just hours earlier, Ranil Wickremesinghe’s home was on fire after protesters broke in and set it alight. Videos circulating on social media show flames lighting up the night sky.

Crowds had earlier overrun the official residence of Mr Rajapaksa, lounging in its state rooms and jumping in his pool.

The country is suffering rampant inflation and is struggling to import food, fuel and medicine.

Large numbers of protesters travelled to the capital from across the country, with officials telling AFP news agency that some had even “commandeered” trains to get there.

Sri Lankan anti government protesters invade the president’s office during a protest at Colombo

Protesters made their way into the house, chanting slogans and waving the national flag

Mr Rajapaksa vacated his official residence on Friday as a safety precaution ahead of the planned protests, two defence ministry sources said, according to Reuters.

The BBC has been unable to confirm the president’s whereabouts. A source close to the PM said he was in a “safe place”.

Protesters made their way towards the president’s residence on Saturday morning, before breaking through barricades.

Hundreds of protesters made their way into the house, chanting slogans and waving the national flag.

Footage on social media soon showed people roaming through the house and splashing in the pool. Some could be seen emptying out a chest of drawers.

Although it is Mr Rajapaksa’s official residence, he usually sleeps at a separate house nearby.

Many protesters posed for selfies after entering the palace

Similar scenes could be witnessed at the prime minister’s house.

His office later announced that he had agreed to resign to make way for an all-party government. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said he was willing to quit to ensure the safety of civilians.

But soon after his announcement videos started circulating of his house up in flames. The prime minister lives with his family in a private home, known as Fifth Lane. He uses his official residence, called Temple Trees, for official business only.


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