Months into the country’s worst-ever economic crisis, thousands of protesters in Sri Lanka on Saturday stormed the president’s official residence and demanded his immediate resignation, local media reported.
Holding Sri Lankan flags and helmets, some protesters broke through police barricades and entered President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence in the capital Colombo, leading law enforcement to fire in the air to disperse them, according to video from local TV news channel NewsFirst.
Local media claimed that Rajapaksa left the residence and was taken to a safe place.
TV footage shows some of these protestors bursting through the gates of the presidential secretariat on the seafront, which has been the site of a sit-in protest for months.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called an emergency meeting of political party leaders amid growing anger over the government’s handling of the economic crisis.
Wickremesinghe requested the speaker to summon parliament, a statement from the prime minister’s office said.
Police in Sri Lanka declared a curfew Friday in Colombo, ahead of planned weekend protests.
The island nation of 22 million people has defaulted on all of its foreign debt due to a lack of foreign exchange.
Amid currency depreciation and high inflation, the country has been unable to pay for petrol and other necessities, resulting in anti-government protests. A lack of fuel for power stations has also resulted in constant power cuts. State employees have been asked to work from home while schools are closed.
The government is negotiating a bailout package with the IMF.
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