Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to step down

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The embattled president is due to step down on July 13, the announcement came after a tumultuous day in which protesters stormed his residence and burned down the prime minister’s house.

SRI LANKA, Sun July 10, 2022 (Aljazeera)
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has agreed to step down next week, an official has said, after protesters stormed the presidential palace and burned down the prime minister’s house to express their anger over the worsening situation. economic crisis.
Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said in a televised statement on Saturday that Rajapaksa had agreed to step down on July 13.
“The decision to step down on July 13 was taken to ensure a peaceful transfer of power,” Abeywardena said.
“So I ask the public to obey the law and keep the peace.”
News of the president’s decision sparked an eruption of festive fireworks in parts of the capital, Colombo.
“Today is independence day for me who was born in this nation not in 1948 because today we fought for our freedom against tyranny and the scoundrels and greedy politicians who have led our nation to zero,” one protester told Al Jazeera.
Earlier in the day, Rajapaksa was evacuated from the presidential palace in Colombo, before thousands of protesters stormed the building, demanding his resignation.
A Facebook live stream from inside the president’s home showed hundreds of protesters thronging rooms and hallways, shouting slogans against the embattled 73-year-old leader. Images of protesters standing and some bathing in the pool inside the president’s home have circulated widely on social media.
The Prime Minister also resigns
Protesters then broke into Wickremesinghe’s house and set it on fire. Video footage shown on local news channels showed a huge fire and smoke coming from Wickremesinghe’s private home in an affluent neighborhood of Colombo. His office said protesters started the fire.
There were no immediate reports of injuries in the fire. Wickremesinghe had moved to a safe place earlier in the day, a government source told Reuters news agency.
Wickremesinghe also announced his own impending resignation, but said he would not step down until a new government was formed.
“Today in this country we have a fuel crisis, a food shortage, we have the head of the World Food Program coming here and we have several issues to discuss with the IMF,” Wickremesinghe said. “Therefore, if this government leaves, there should be another government.”
Wickremesinghe said he had suggested to the president to have a multi-party government, but said nothing about Rajapaksa’s whereabouts.
Thyagi Ruwanpathirana, a researcher at Amnesty International, told Al Jazeera that Sri Lanka “will not come out of this crisis for some time”.
“There’s a lot of waiting and watching, and it’s affecting people,” she said.
“We haven’t had fuel for days… Just imagine running out of fuel. People can’t get to work. The children cannot go to school. The whole economy is at a standstill,” she said from Colombo.
Saturday’s protest began with thousands of people converging on Colombo’s Galle Face Green Square in one of the biggest anti-government protests the crisis-hit island has seen this year. Soldiers and police at the president’s official residence, located near the site of the protest, could not hold back the crowd calling for Rajapaksa’s resignation.
A total of at least 39 people, including two police officers, have been injured and hospitalized amid the protests, hospital sources told Reuters.
Reporter from Colombo, Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez said tens of thousands of protesters had arrived in Colombo for the demonstrations.
“People stormed stations and literally forced employees to put them on trains and bring them to Colombo,” she said. “They say they are taking back their country.”
Full article can be viewed at: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/7/9/sri-lanka-protesters-storm-president-house-demanding-resignation
First published by Aljazeera

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