Sri Lankan President Says He Will Resign Amid Mass Demonstrations Over Economic Crisis

(CNN) — Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said he will step down next week, according to the speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament, as protests erupted on Saturday and demonstrators stormed the official residences of the president and prime minister. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also said that he is ready to step down.

Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said Rajapaksa has informed him that he will resign on July 13, the Parliament Speaker’s office announced Saturday night. The announcement came after a request from Abeywardena calling for the president’s resignation following a meeting of party leaders.

On Saturday, protesters stormed the Sri Lankan leader’s official residence in Colombo, as more than 100,000 people gathered outside, according to police, calling for Rajapaksa’s resignation over his management of the economic crisis from the country.

A video broadcast on Sri Lankan television and social media showed protesters entering the President’s House, Rajapaksa’s office and residence in the commercial capital, after breaking through security cordons set up by police.

Footage shows protesters inside the building and waving banners from the balcony, as well as swimming in the residence’s pool.

Rajapaksa is not at the site and has been moved to another location, security officials told CNN. It is unclear how many security personnel are present at the scene.

Demonstrators protest inside Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in this screenshot obtained from a social media video on July 9, 2022.

At least 31 people, including two policemen, were injured in the protests and are receiving treatment, according to the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL). Two of the injured are in critical condition, according to police.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has called an emergency meeting of party leaders to discuss the current situation and come up with a resolution, his office said on Saturday.

He also asked the president of the parliament to summon the parliamentarians.

The South Asian nation of 22 million is suffering its worst financial crisis in recent history, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine and fuel.

A police curfew previously imposed on several police divisions in Sri Lanka’s western province was lifted on Saturday. Several politicians and the Sri Lanka Bar Association referred to the curfew as “illegal” and said there were no instances of violence to justify imposing the measure.

Tens of thousands have taken to the streets in recent months, calling for the country’s leaders to resign over accusations of economic mismanagement.

In several major cities, including Colombo, hundreds are forced to queue for hours to buy fuel, sometimes clashing with police and the army as they wait.

Images from Colombo paint a chaotic scene, with images showing protesters fleeing tear gas and clashing with police in bulletproof vests.

Schools have been suspended and fuel has been limited to essential services. Patients are unable to travel to hospitals due to fuel shortages and food prices are skyrocketing.

Protesters flee tear gas used by police during a protest demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa near the president’s residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Saturday.

Trains have been reduced in frequency, forcing commuters to squeeze into compartments and even sit precariously on top of them as they commute to work.

Wickremesinghe said that the country had started talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to revive the country’s economy.

This week, he told parliament that talks with the IMF were “difficult” as they entered the discussion as a “bankrupt” country, rather than a developing one.

Sri Lankan PM says he is ready to resign

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe during an interview in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on June 11. (Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says he is ready to step down and usher in an all-party government, the president’s office said on Saturday.

The decision comes after a meeting of party leaders, held by the speaker of Sri Lanka’s parliament, agreed to ask the president and prime minister to resign over “overwhelming request,” Sri Lankan MP Rauff Hakeem tweeted on Tuesday. Saturday.

“To ensure the safety of citizens, he agrees with this recommendation from the opposition party leaders,” the prime minister’s office said.

The decision is also taken in view of the fact that fuel distribution will restart this week, the Director of the World Food Program will visit the country this week and ahead of a debt sustainability report for the IMF that will be finalized shortly. added the prime minister’s office.

Protesters set fire to private residence of Sri Lankan Prime Minister

Protesters broke into the private residence of the Sri Lankan prime minister, setting it on fire, according to the prime minister’s office.

Wickremesinghe was not at the residence at the time of the rape. He had been moved to a safer location earlier, his office said.

Live video broadcast by local media and seen by CNN showed the residence engulfed in flames as crowds gathered at the scene.

The private residence on Fifth Lane in the commercial capital of Colombo is where the Prime Minister and his family reside. It is separate from the official residence, called Temple Trees.

Irene Nasser, Iqbal Athas, Rhea Mogul, and Rukshana Rizwie contributed reporting.

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