Arson, violence, loot: Lanka PM’s home set afire, Prez house breached as crisis escalates


Thousands stormed the official residence of Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday in a show of striking public fury over the island nation’s worsening economic condition. Rajapaksa fled his official residence in Colombo minutes before an angry mob breached the police barricades and entered the compound.

Protestors have been demanding the president’s resignation over the dire economic situation in the country. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe summoned a crucial meeting of all party leaders and requested the Speaker, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, to summon the parliament. Ranil Wickremesinghe offered to resign to facilitate an ‘all-party government’.

By late evening, demonstrators began their march towards the private residence of Ranil Wickremesinghe and set it on fire. Meanwhile, the Speaker said that President Rajapaksa has agreed to resign on July 13.

Here are the top developments:

-Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled his official residence in Colombo on Saturday after protesters demanded the leader’s resignation. Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic turmoil in its seven decades. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was escorted to a safe location, a top defence source told AFP.

-Local TV channel NewsFirst showed video footage from the protest where people can be seen holding Sri Lankan flags and helmets. Demonstrators arrived in buses, trains and trucks and shouted slogans ‘Gota go home’ to express their outrage over the government’s failure to bring the economic crisis in control. According to Reuters, at least 21 people, including two police, were injured and hospitalised in the protests.

-Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe summoned an emergency meeting of political party leaders after protesters stormed the president’s house. Opposition and SJB Leader Sajith Premadasa said he or his party would not attend the party leaders’ meeting called by Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

-Amid the protests, Sri Lanka MP Rajitha Senaratne was attacked by protesters as agitation erupted on the streets. In the video, Rajitha Senaratne was seen being heckled and punched by the protestors from all sides.

-Sri Lanka cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya also sought the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and said he stood with the people of Sri Lanka. Colombo MP Harsha de Silva and Sri Lanka cricketer Kumar Sangakkara joined the protest.

-In the crucial party meeting, party leaders reportedly requested President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to step down. Speaker Yapa Abeywardena wrote to the president and gave him a four-point proposal calling for a fresh election within a certain period.

ALSO READ| Sri Lanka economic crisis: President Gotabaya Rajapaksa flees as protesters storm residence

-In another significant development, all the schools in Sri Lanka have been shut till July 15. At least four state universities have asked to remain shut due to the collapsing economy.

-After the all-party-meeting, Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told the party leaders that he is willing to resign and make way for an all-party government to take over. Wickremesinghe said he would resign when all parties have agreed on forming a new government.

-Protestors marched towards the official residence of Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, prompting police to use tear gas and water cannon against them. According to local reports, journalists were attacked by the security forces of Ranil Wickremesinghe.

-PM Ranil Wickramsinghe has released an audio in Sinhalese language on Twitter and said that he is ready to resign with certain conditions. The prime minister reiterated that a new government should be formed when this government resigns. Cabinet minister Bandula Gunawardana and President’s media head (Director General of Presidential Media) Sudeva Hettiarachchi also announced their resignations.

-After reports of journalists being attacked came to the fore, crowds marched towards Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s residence and set it on fire. Police fired tear gas on crowd marching to Ranil Wickeremesinghe’s home.

-Sri Lanka Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Saturday wrote to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after a party leaders’ meeting was held at his residence. The decision was that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to resign immediately. Second was that Parliament to be convened in seven days to appoint an acting president.

-The third decision was to appoint an interim all-party government under a new Prime Minister commanding a majority in Parliament. And the fourth decision was to call for elections within a short period of time and appoint a new government, as per Newswire.

-Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has informed that he will resign on July 13.

SRI LANKA ECONOMIC CRISIS

Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange reserve has fallen 70% since January 2020. This stalled its imports, leading to an acute shortage of several essential items. Its currency has undergone substantial devaluation.

The loan arrangements with China too contributed to the Sri Lankan economic crisis. Most of the loan it received from China in the past decade was invested in low-return projects, such as the construction of ports, airports, and coal power plants. The loan amounted to nearly USD 5 billion.

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