Sri Lanka economic crisis: PM residence set on fire

Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will resign next Wednesday, after months of protest against him amid an unprecedented economic crisis. The Speaker will become the President for 30 days during which Parliament will elect a new leader.

The development comes shortly after Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s house in Colombo was today set on fire by protesters. “Protesters have broken into the private residence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and have set it on fire,” said the Lankan Prime Minister’s Office in a statement.

Despite tear gas being fired on the protesters to disperse, they entered the Prime Minister’s house. The protesters were seen damaging vehicles belonging to the Prime Minister.

Mr Wickremesinghe, who was appointed as Prime Minister in May, has announced that he will resign from his post in order to ensure the continuation of the government and the safety of all the citizens.

“To ensure the continuation of the Government including the safety of all citizens I accept the best recommendation of the Party Leaders today, to make way for an All-Party Government. To facilitate this I will resign as Prime Minister,” he tweeted after the meeting.

Earlier in the day, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled his official residence shortly before protesters overran the compound and stormed his nearby office. Amid chaos, videos emerged of suitcases being loaded on a Sri Lanka Navy ship. Local media claims that the suitcases were of President Rajapaksa.

After breaching the gates of the presidential palace, hundreds of people could be seen in live broadcasts on social media walking through its rooms, with some among the boisterous crowd jumping into the compound’s pool.

The nation of 22 million people is struggling under a severe foreign exchange shortage that has limited essential imports of fuel, food and medicine, plunging it into the worst financial turmoil in seven decades.

Many blame the country’s decline on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Largely peaceful protests since March have demanded his resignation.

Discontent has worsened in recent weeks as the cash-strapped country stopped receiving fuel shipments, forcing school closures and rationing of petrol and diesel for essential services.

Source – NDTV