Sri Lankan president ousted after protesters seize official state residence – SABC News

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa plans to step down from the presidency on July 13, the country’s parliament speaker said on Saturday.

This follows after thousands of protesters stormed the president’s residence in Colombo, the country’s capital, on Saturday and demanded his resignation. Crowds of protesters waving flags furious at Rajapaksa’s handling the worst economic crisis in the country in decades have gathered for the president’s official state residence, and despite heavy security, protesters stormed past the security forces and marched into the residence.

The president would be taken to a safer location, with some reports saying he is close to the airport, but this cannot be confirmed.

Before breaking into government buildings on Saturday, protesters dismantled several police barricades in Colombo’s government district. A witness says police fired shots into the air, but could not stop the crowd to surround the presidential residence.

Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said in a video statement that President Rajapaksa had informed him that he was stepping down on Wednesday.

Abeywardena said: “The decision to step down on July 13 was taken to ensure a peaceful transfer of power,” “I therefore urge the public to respect the law and maintain peace,” he concluded.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, called for an emergency meeting of all political party leaders and cabinet to discuss the situation and find a way to deal with the power vacuum that would overthrow President Gotabaya’s resignation.

Footage circulating on social media shows protesters lounging on a four-poster bed and diving into a swimming pool near the residence.

The economic crisis of Sri Lanka

The economic crisis facing Sri Lanka developed after the COVID-19 pandemic hammered out the tourist-dependent economy and reduced remittances of foreign workers.

It has been exacerbated by the build-up of sharp government debt, rising oil prices and a ban on the import of chemical fertilizers last year that devastated agriculture. The fertilizer ban was reversed in November.

Many blame the country’s decline on economic mismanagement by Rajapaksa and there have been months of largely peaceful protests demanding his dismissal. Dissatisfaction has increased in recent weeks as the country has stopped making money from receiving fuel supplies, forcing school closures and rationing petrol and diesel for essential services.

Political instability could undermine Sri Lanka’s talks with the International Monetary Fund as it seeks a $ 3 billion bailout, the restructuring of some foreign debt and fund raising from multilateral and bilateral sources to reduce the dollar drought.

Sri Lankan president ousted after protesters seize official state residence – SABC News

Source link Sri Lankan president ousted after protesters seize official state residence – SABC News

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