Angry Sri Lankans storm Presidential Palace as Gotabaya Rajapaksa flees

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Protestors demanding the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa gather inside the compound of Presidential Palace in Colombo. AFP

Gulf Today Report

The doom and gloom that was building up among the Sri Lankans reached a flashpoint on Saturday as the masses decided that enough was enough and took matters into their own hands. They stormed the official home of Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who took to his heels before they arrived.

For months now, the people had been wilting under the repressive weight of financial woes, including soaring prices and long queues for petrol and LPG cylinders which were becoming unbearable. Sales of petrol and diesel for private cars were banned, schools were shuttered and people were told to work from home.

Thousands of people had surrounded the leader’s home to demand his resignation, blaming the government mismanagement for the financial disaster that landed 22 million people in terrible hardship. As the crowd swelled at the gates of the presidential palace, troops guarding the compound fired in the air to hold them back until Rajapaksa was safely removed.
Security forces tried to control the crowds that had mobbed Colombo’s administrative district and when things went beyond control, used tear gas.

Three people were rushed to hospital after they were shot while 36 had breathing issues.

Footage broadcast live on social media showed hundreds of people sauntering through the palace, with some taking a dip in the swimming pool.

Others were seen laughing and relaxing in the stately bedrooms of the residence.

Some TV channels showed a vehicle convoy belonging to the president at Sri Lanka’s main international airport, but there was no confirmation on whether he had left the island.
Soon after the crowd stormed the presidential palace, Rajapaksa’s nearby office also fell into the hands of protesters, according to Agence France-Presse.

Nearly 20,000 troops and police officers were deployed.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, slated for assuming the presidency should Rajapaksa quit, summoned an urgent cabinet meeting to discuss a “swift resolution” to the political crisis.

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