Sri Lanka: Thousands of Protesters Enter Prime Minister's Office

Sri Lanka: Thousands of Protesters Break into Prime Minister's Office

Protesters at the Prime Minister's office, July 13, 2022.

Protesters entered the offices of the Prime Minister on Wednesday. offices of the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, where a state of emergency was declared after the flight to the Maldives of its President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Thousands of protesters stormed the offices of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, hours after his appointment as interim president, witnesses reported.

La Crowds overwhelmed law enforcement and entered the building to hoist country flags, after police and military tried to push them back with tear gas and water cannons. /p>

Police tried to disperse protesters with tear gas and water cannons on July 13 2022.

These scenes recall the capture of the presidential palace on Saturday which forced Mr. Rajapaksa to flee before reaching the Maldives on Wednesday.

On television, the prime minister called on the army and police to do what is necessary to restore order, adding: we cannot allow the fascists to take over.

< p class="e-p">A few hours earlier, the government had declared a state of emergency and the police said that a curfew had been put in place in the province of Colombo for end the protests.

In vain, because thousands of people gathered in front of the offices of the Prime Minister to demand the resignation of Mr. Wickremesinghe at the same time as that of the President. Go home Ranil! Gota go home, shouted the demonstrators.

Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe

Mr Wickremesinghe has been appointed interim president by the runaway head of state, the Speaker of Parliament announced on Wednesday. The Constitution provides for such a transition in the event of resignation, but the latter has not yet been formalized.

The Prime Minister had himself pledged to withdraw if an agreement was reached for a government of national unity.

Mr. Rajapaksa, 73, who promised last weekend to quit on Wednesday, took off early from Colombo International Airport with his wife and two bodyguards in an Antonov-32, immigration officials told AFP.

Their passports were stamped and they boarded the special flight operated by the x27;air force, an immigration official told AFP.

An airport official in Malé, the capital of the Maldives, said at around 10:30 p.m. (UTC) the plane had landed and the passengers were taken under police escort to a destination. unknown at this stage.

According to Sri Lankan airport sources, the aircraft was held for over an hour on the airport tarmac awaiting clearance to land in the Maldives.

There were tense moments, but in the end it all worked out. x27;is well done, an airport official said on condition of anonymity.

At the same time, crowds continued to throng the presidential palace in a celebratory mood with couples strolling, hand-in-hand, through the halls of the building.

People are very happy, because these people stole our country,” said Kingsley Samarakoon, a 74-year-old retired civil servant. They stole too much money, billions and billions.

He holds little hope in Sri Lanka's ability to quickly emerge from the crisis. How are people going to run the country without money? he asks, it's a problem.

People marching in the presidential palace , after Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives, July 12, 2022.

The departure of the president was not without difficulty. He had been turned away on Tuesday in a humiliating manner from Colombo airport by immigration officials.

The latter had refused him access to the lounge VIP to have his passport stamped when the Head of State wanted to avoid the terminal open to the public, fearing the reaction of the population.

Having not yet resigned, Mr. Rajapaksa still enjoys presidential immunity. He may have wanted to flee to Dubai before being arrested.

In the event of the resignation of the president, the Constitution provides that Parliament elects within 30 days a deputy who will exercise the power until the end of the current mandate, i.e. November 2024.

If Mr Rajapaksa tenders his resignation on Wednesday, the vote of Parliament would take place on July 20, announced the president of the legislative chamber.

On Wednesday, protesters also disrupted the public television antenna.

An unidentified man entered the studio of the Rupavahini channel during a live broadcast and ordered that only information about the protests is disseminated. The transmission was cut and replaced with a recorded program.

Sri Lankan leaders are accused of mismanaging the economy, leading to the foreign exchange-starved country's inability to fund the most essential imports for a population of 22 million. #x27;residents.

Colombo defaulted on its $51 billion foreign debt in April and is in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout.

People wait in line to refill their gas canisters, on July 12, 2022, in Colombo, Sri Lanka .

Sri Lanka has almost exhausted its petrol reserves. The government ordered the closure of non-essential offices and schools to reduce travel and save fuel.

Earlier today, the President of the Parliament had announced the appointment by fugitive head of state Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Mr. Wickremesinghe as interim president.

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