Just hours after Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country on Wednesday, hundreds of people demanded the resignation of the prime minister, fought street battles with security forces, and some were armed with assault guns.
“Ranil goes home!” They chanted before attacking the office of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of Colombo. The whereabouts of Wickremesinghe could not be immediately confirmed by Reuters.
Police repeatedly fired tear gas, and Wickremesinghe, who was president in the absence of Rajapaksa, said in a video statement he was working to declare a national emergency.
Protesters consider him an ally of Rajapaksa and want to get rid of him.
“We want Ranil to resign,” said 30-year-old S. Shasidaran. He said he was exposed to tear gas earlier in the day outside the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Arrest everyone who helped Gota (President) escape. We want to get back the stolen money.”
The Prime Minister’s Office is a whitewashed colonial building with a gorgeous wooden staircase connecting the two floors and a lawn outside.
The scene was filled with protesters who fought security forces for about three hours and finally broke through a large black gate on the premises around 2 pm.
In the courtyard, a group of peaceful protesters gathered to sing a revolutionary Sinhala song, and armed military personnel sat in a nearby air-conditioned room.
Other armed guards guided the protesters to a well-ventilated room upstairs, where Reuters interviewed Wickremesinghe in late May.
Luxurious furniture was pushed into the corner, blocking access to Wickremesinghe’s headquarters next to the stairs.
Hundreds of people lined up peacefully to visit Gotabaya’s official residence, a few kilometers away.
KK Subasinghe is one of the lines waiting to enter the once-feared former soldier’s house, boarding a Sri Lanka Air Force aircraft and fleeing to the Maldives with his wife and two bodyguards early Wednesday morning. did.
After a massive protest against his rule on July 9, Rajapaksa said he would resign as chairman of parliament.
Subasinghe said he also served the Sri Lankan army and fought in a domestic bloody civil war with the Tamil tiger guerrillas. The war ended in 2009 under the command of then-Minister of Defense Rajapaksa.
However, Subasinge said he rarely praised Rajapaksa and brought his family and brothers to show them the luxury of the presidential residence.
“I wanted to give them a glimpse of their (Rajapaxus) luxury lifestyle,” Subashinge said, wearing a T-shirt with a collar and khaki trousers and a green plastic bag.
“While we were suffering, they asked us to grow their food and ride a bike.”
Mr. Subashinge said he expects a major celebration if Mr. Rajapaksa resigns.
“We celebrate this important day,” he said. “If he doesn’t resign, I think the protest will be stronger than on July 9.”
The crowd went around the garden of the colonial building. Some people were taking a nap on the lawn, while others were taking selfies on their cell phones.
Volunteers guided the group past the president’s pool. When they passed by, a young man was in the muddy gray sea.
Inside the main building, Subasinge and his family had access to only a small part of the ground floor. The rest, including the bedroom and the large hall, was roped by the protest organizers.
Next to the adjacent building, a BMW 7 Series luxury sedan was parked and the fuel cap was pried open.
“I didn’t expect such a luxury,” Subashinge’s brother, MD Chandradasa, said when they finished their residential tour.
“It’s okay if you’re the head of state, but what about us poor people?
http://www.gulf-times.com/story/720948/Sri-Lankans-storm-prime-minister-s-office-demandin Sri Lankans attack Prime Minister’s Office and demand that Prime Minister resign