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Sri Lankan President Resigns After Days of Protests

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By Newsvot News - - 5 Mins Read

As months of discontent brought on by an unparalleled economic crisis boiled over, Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced his resignation on Sunday am (AEST), hours after a mob of irate protestors rushed him from his mansion.

Thousands of protesters gathered in the nation's capital, Colombo, to call on the government to accept responsibility for the country's financial mismanagement as well as for the dire food and gasoline shortages.

After barging through the presidential palace's gates and through its rooms, a mass of demonstrators jumped into the compound's swimming pool. Another was spotted bringing out what he claimed to be a pair of Rajapaksa's underpants while others were seen laughing and relaxing in the elegant bedrooms of the house.

Around the same time, the leader announced he was finally resigning after months of calls for it, boarding a naval vessel in the Colombo port and being escorted to the island's southern waters.

Mahinda Abeywardana, speaker of the house, made a broadcast announcement, "The president announced he will step down on July 13 to ensure a smooth transition."

Armed forces had to remove Rajapaksa from his home by firing into the air to disperse the mob outside. Protesters also took control of Rajapaksa's adjoining seaside office shortly after they surrounded the presidential mansion.

Protestors demanding the resignation of Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa gather near his residence.

First in line to succeed Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe convened a meeting with party leaders and declared his willingness to resign in order to create a unity government.

However, that did not appease the demonstrators, who after dark broke into the premier's private home and burned it ablaze.

A throng was seen in video posted to social media applauding the fire, which started soon after a security team protecting Wickremesinghe attacked several journalists outside the house.

The fire has not yet been linked to any casualties, and according to the police, Wickremesinghe and his family were not home at the time.

The massive crowds that had surrounded Colombo's administrative district earlier in the day were being dispersed by security personnel, but skirmishes that ensued resulted in dozens of injuries.

Three individuals were being treated for gunshot wounds at Colombo's major hospital, along with 36 others who were having trouble breathing after being exposed to tear gas, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

‘Not a deterrent’

After running out of foreign currency to import needs, Sri Lanka has endured months of shortages of basic items, protracted outages, and escalating inflation.

The government is requesting a rescue from the International Monetary Fund after defaulting on its $51 billion external debt. For the demonstration on Saturday, the latest in a string of unrest brought on by the crisis, thousands of people flooded into the city.

Following threats to sue the police chief from opposition parties, rights advocates, and the bar association, police withdrew a curfew that had been imposed on Friday.

According to officials, thousands of anti-government protestors disobeyed the directive to stay at home and even compelled railroad authorities to run trains to transport them to Colombo for the event on Saturday.

The curfew had little deterrent effect. In fact, it fueled more defiance as more people took to the streets, the defense official claimed.

People unable to travel to the capital staged protests in other locations throughout the island as Sri Lanka's already limited gasoline supplies were almost depleted.

Protestors demanding the resignation of Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa swim in a pool inside the compound of Sri Lanka's Presidential Palace.

Outside Rajapaksa's office, protesters have previously established a camp for months, calling for his resignation.

In May, there were skirmishes at the camp after a group of Rajapaksa supporters attacked peaceful demonstrators who had assembled there.

After the violence led to retaliatory attacks against pro-government mobs and arson attacks on politicians' residences, nine people were murdered and hundreds were injured.

Wild video of protestors rummaging inside Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa's palace has surfaced, showing them swimming in his pool and inspecting his kitchen after throngs of people stormed his official residence on Saturday.

The demonstrators, infuriated by an unprecedented economic crisis, overran the property and forced their way into the president's adjoining office, forcing him to flee.

The troops manning the presidential palace's perimeter fired shots into the air as the mob pressed up to the gates, deterring them until Mr. Rajapaksa had been escorted safely.

Under the condition of anonymity, a senior defense official told AFP, "The president was transported to safety." "He is still the president, and a military squad is guarding him."

First in line to succeed Mr. Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe convened a meeting with party leaders and declared his willingness to resign in order to create a unity government.