Sri Lanka Live Updates: Protesters enter President’s house

Credit…Dinuka Liyanawatte / Reuters

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, whose family has dominated Sri Lankan politics for much of the past two decades, received a request from the country’s political leadership on Saturday to step down after months of protests accusing him of plunging the island nation’s economy into crisis. land due to corruption and mismanagement.

The call for the departure of Rajapaksa has been confirmed two legislators and came after protesters entered the president’s residence and office, and thousands more came to the Colombo capital to express their growing fury at his government’s failure to deal with the devastating economic crisis.

After that, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who only took office in May and also faced demands to resign, signaled his resignation.

Sri Lanka has run out of foreign exchange reserves to import essentials such as fuel and medicine, and the United Nations has warned that more than a quarter of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people are at risk of food shortages.

The economic crisis was a major setback for the island nation, which was still struggling with legacy of a bloody 30-year civil war. This conflict between the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels, who began to discriminate against Tamils, ended in 2009. .

At least 42 people were injured in clashes with security forces in the city after police fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters and fired into the air in an attempt to disperse them, health officials said.

Local media showed footage of protesters tearing down parts of the presidential residence, as well as his secretariat, a separate building that houses his office.

Video on social media shows protesters jumping into the pool at the Rajapaksa Residence, relaxing in bedrooms and frying snacks in the presidential kitchen.

“I came here today to send the president home,” said Vasanta Kiruvattuduwa, 50, who walked 10 miles to join the protest. “Now the President must resign. If he wants peace to reign, he must resign.”

The whereabouts of Mr. Rajapaksa was not clear.

The protests have been going on for months, but Saturday’s demonstration turned out to be one of the largest, despite authorities imposing an overnight curfew and stopping trains in an attempt to prevent people from reaching the capital.

On Friday, The United Nations called “Sri Lankan authorities should exercise restraint in controlling gatherings and make every effort necessary to prevent violence.”