Uncertain situation in Sri Lanka after the flight of the president

Uncertain situation in Sri Lanka after the flight of the president

Protesters in Colombo are perched on top of a vandalized police water cannon truck.

The situation remains uncertain on Sunday in Sri Lanka where President Gotabaya Rajapaksa agreed to resign this week, after being forced to flee his palace invaded by crowds in the wake of monster demonstrations in Colombo caused by the catastrophic crisis hitting the country. /p>

The United States on Sunday urged the country's future new leaders to work quickly on solutions to worsening economic conditions, including shortages of electricity, food and of fuel, a State Department spokesperson said.

To ensure a peaceful transition, the president has said he will step down on July 13, Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Abeywardana said on Saturday on television.

Two close to the president resigned without delay: the head of the press service Sudewa Hettiarachchi and the media minister Bandula Gunawardana who also left his post at the head of the presidential party.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe attempted to pave the way for a government of national unity, calling a government crisis meeting with opposition parties and proposing his resignation.

< p class="e-p">But that was not enough to calm the anger of the demonstrators who in the evening besieged his residence, in his absence, and set it on fire, without causing any injuries.

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

President Rajapaksa, 73, who has been in the hot seat for months, had was able to flee minutes before several hundred protesters entered his palace, normally reserved for receptions but where he had moved in April after his private home was stormed.

Soldiers guarding the official residence fired in the air to deter protesters from approaching the palace until it was evacuated and boarded a military ship en route to the territorial waters in the south of the island.

On Sunday, according to a Defense source, Mr. Rajapaksa should reach the naval base of Trincomalee in the north- east of the island.

Police and bystanders outside a vandalized entrance to the President's official residence in Colombo.

After midnight Saturday, Chief of the Defense Staff, General Shavendra Silva appealed for calm on television, saying: There is an opportunity to resolve the crisis peacefully. and constitutional.

Colombo National Hospital, the capital's main hospital, reported 105 people admitted after Saturday's protests and 55 still receiving treatment on Sunday. Among the injured are seven journalists. One person is in very serious condition after a gunshot wound, spokeswoman Pushpa Soysa said.

Protesters still occupying the presidential palace on Sunday said that they would not leave until the effective resignation of the president, which defends Lahiru Weerasekara, a student.

“Our fight is not over. We won't give up on this fight until it really leaves. »

— Lahiru Weerasekara, student

Demonstrators demanding the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa entered the compound of Sri Lanka's presidential palace in Colombo.

Student activists said they found 17.8 million rupees (about 63,000 Canadian dollars) in Mr. Rajapaksa's room and handed them over to the police.

Saturday , demonstrations demanding the resignation of Mr. Rajapaksa gathered in Colombo hundreds of thousands of people.

Clashes pitted demonstrators against security forces who tried to disperse them with tear gas.

Local television channels then showed images of hundreds of people climbing the gates of the presidential palace.

Protesters fight back after police fired tear gas to disperse them in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Protesters live streamed videos of the marching crowd on social media indoors, some splashing around in the presidential pool or in the bedrooms.

The protesters also took over the offices of the presidency nearby on Saturday evening, in front of which demonstrators had been camping for three months.

Once a middle-income country with a standard of living envied by India, Sri Lanka has been devastated by the loss of tourism revenue following a jihadist attack in 2019 and then the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some demonstrators ventured into the presidential swimming pool during the invasion of the palace.

The crisis, unprecedented since the independence in 1948 of this island of 22 million people. #x27; inhabitants, has been aggravated, according to economists, by a series of bad political decisions of which the presidential clan in power since 2005 is accused by the population.

The country is negotiating a rescue plan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which said on Sunday that it hoped for a settlement of the current situation so as to allow the resumption of our dialogue.

US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said on Sunday that Russian restrictions on Ukrainian grain exports may have contributed to shortages in Sri Lanka.

< p class="e-p">And Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. I implore those in authority not to ignore the cry of the poor and the needs of the people, he said.

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