Hundreds of Sri Lankan protesters demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday stormed into his official residence in the central Colombo’s high-security Fort area after breaking the barricades, as people took to streets protesting against the government over the nation’s worst economic crisis in recent memory.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was facing calls for resignation since March was using the President’s House as his residence and office since protesters came to occupy the entrance to his office early April.
Insiders say the President was moved out of the house on Friday as the build up to Saturday’s protest was gathering.
A massive gathering of protesters broke through barricades even as police used tear gas and water cannons and opened fire to disperse them.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday called for an urgent meeting of political party leaders to discuss the crisis in the country caused by the public protest, calling for Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation.
A statement from Wickremesinghe’s office said he had called on party leaders for an urgent meeting, asking the Speaker to summon an urgent meeting of Parliament.
Protesters who climbed the walls of the President’s House are now occupying it without damaging any property or indulging in acts of violence.
At least 30 persons, including two police officers, were injured during the ongoing protests and were admitted to the National Hospital in Colombo.
Sri Lankan Police had earlier in the day lifted the curfew imposed in seven divisions in the country’s Western Province, including Colombo, ahead of the planned anti-government protests, after coming under sustained pressure from top lawyers’ associations, human rights groups, and political parties.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, crippled by an acute shortage of foreign exchange that has left it struggling to pay for essential imports of fuel, and other essentials.