Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan PM agrees to quit in biggest political turmoil

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has agreed to resign after party leaders in Parliament demanded both he and the embattled president step down on the day protesters stormed the president’s residence and office. 

The prime minister’s spokesman, Dinouk Colambage, said Wickremesinghe told party leaders that he will resign when all parties have agreed on forming a new government.

His decision came after the biggest protest yet swept Sri Lanka on Saturday as tens of thousands of people broke through barricades and entered President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence and nearby office to vent their fury against a leader they hold responsible for the nation’s worst economic crisis.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. 

Sri Lankan protesters stormed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence and nearby office on Saturday as tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the capital Colombo in the biggest demonstration yet to vent their fury against a leader they hold responsible for the island nation’s worst economic crisis.

It was not clear if Rajapaksa was inside his residence but footage showed hundreds of people inside the well-fortified house and on the grounds outside, some taking a dip in the garden pool and others in a jubilant mood.

A government spokesman, Mohan Samaranayake, said he had no information about Rajapaksa’s whereabouts. 

Leaders of political parties in Parliament met after the storming of the president’s residence and decided to request Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to step down, opposition lawmaker Rauff Hakeem said on Twitter.

He said a consensus was reached that the parliamentary speaker should take over as temporary president and work to form an interim government, he said.

Sri Lanka’s economy is in a state of collapse, muddling through with aid from India and other countries as its leaders try to negotiate a bailout with the International Monetary Fund. The economic meltdown has led to severe shortages of essential items, leaving people struggling to buy food, fuel and other necessities.

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