Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Irish Independent
Irish Independent
World
Krishan Francis

Sri Lanka’s PM and president quit after crowds storm presidential palace with some making tea and using swimming pool

Protesters storm in at the Sri Lankan president's official residence, in Colombo, Sri Lanka . Picture: AP

Sri Lanka’s opposition political parties are meeting to agree on a new government a day after the country’s president and prime minister offered to resign in the wake of months of political turmoil.

Protesters who stormed the president’s official residence, his office and the prime minister’s official residence on Saturday spent the night there, saying they will stay until the leaders officially resign.

Opposition politician MA Sumanthiran said all opposition parties combined could easily muster the 113 members needed for a parliamentary majority, whereupon they will request President Gotabaya Rajapaksa installs the new government and then resigns.

He said the parties hope to reach consensus on Sunday.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Saturday that he will leave office once a new government is in place, and hours later the speaker of parliament said Mr Rajapaksa will step down on Wednesday.

Pressure on both men has grown as the economic meltdown set off acute shortages of essential items, leaving people struggling to obtain food, fuel and other necessities.

If both president and prime minister resign, speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena will take over as temporary president, according to the constitution.

Thousands of protesters entered the capital Colombo on Saturday and swarmed into Mr Rajapaksa’s fortified residence. Video and pictures showed jubilant crowds splashing in the garden pool, lying on beds and using their phone cameras to capture the moment.

Some made tea or used the gym while others issued statements from a conference room demanding that the president and prime minister go.

It was not clear if Mr Rajapaksa was there at the time, and government spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said he had no information about the president’s movements.

Even though both Mr Wickremesinghe and Mr Abeywardena said in their speeches that they had spoken with the president, they did not say anything about his whereabouts.

Protesters sing and dance after storming in at the Sri Lankan president official residence, in Colombo, Sri Lanka , Saturday, July, 9, 2022. Protesters have broken into the Sri Lankan prime minister's private residence and set it on fire, hours after he said he would resign when a new government is formed over a worsening economic crisis. It was the biggest day of demonstrations that also saw crowds storming the president's home and office. (AP Photo/ Eranga Jayawardena)

Protesters later broke into the prime minister’s private residence and set it on fire, Mr Wickremesinghe’s office said. It was not clear if he was there at the time.

The country is relying on aid from India and other nations as leaders try to negotiate a bailout with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Mr Wickremesinghe said recently that negotiations with the IMF were complex because Sri Lanka is now a bankrupt state.

Sri Lanka announced in April that it was suspending repayment of foreign loans due to a foreign currency shortage.

Months of demonstrations have all but dismantled the Rajapaksa political dynasty, which has ruled Sri Lanka for most of the past two decades but is accused by protesters of mismanagement and corruption.

The president’s older brother resigned as prime minister in May after violent protests saw him seek safety at a naval base.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.