10/08/2022

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Chaos in Sri Lanka, protesters hurricane president’s space

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Amidst Sri Lanka’s worst-ever economic crisis, protesters broke into the home of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s and his offices this weekend, while tens of thousands of protesters streamed through the streets of the capital Colombo.

It is not known whether Rajapaksa was inside his residence when it was overrun by protesters.

The prime minister’s private residence was also stormed and set on fire,

Both the president and Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, have agreed to resign after being asked to by party leaders, who have proposed a new emergency government comprising all political parties be formed.

Meanwhile, government spokesman Mohana Samaranayake said he could not provide information about Rajapaksa’s whereabouts.

Sri Lanka’s economy has been in free fall, surviving month to month on aid from neighbors India and other countries.

Meanwhile, the country’s leaders continue to negotiate a bailout with the International Monetary Fund.

The economic collapse has led to ongoing shortages of food, fuel, and other necessities.

The shortages also resulted in months of protests, which has now led to the downfall of the Rajapaksa political dynasty, which has been in power in Sri Lanka for nearly two decades.

Since the protests began, the president’s older brother resigned as prime minister, along with three other Rajapaksa relatives who quit their Cabinet posts.

Much criticism by the public blames the Rajapaksa family, saying they are responsible for Sri Lanka’s economic breakdown due to poor management and corruption.

Prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, only took over in May, =as Rajapaksa has held onto power despite the growing calls for him to quit.

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Demonstrators have remained in a camp set up outside the entrance to the president’s office for the past three months.

Officials said some 34 people, including two police officers, were injured as protesters swarmed the presidential grounds.

Meanwhile, protesting and religious leaders have been calling on Rajapaksa to resign.

“His claim that he was voted in by the Sinhala Buddhists is not valid now,” said Ven. Omalpe Sobitha, a prominent Buddhist leader, as quoted by The Associated Press.

U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung has asked protesters to remain peaceful and called for the military and police “to grant peaceful protesters the space and security to do so.”

“Chaos and force will not fix the economy or bring the political stability that Sri Lankans need right now,” Chung said in a tweet.