Sri Lanka’s embattled president offered his resignation Saturday as protestors overran the capital and stormed the presidential palace and the private residence of the country’s prime minister.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said he will step down on July 13, according to a video statement released by Parliamentary Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, according to adaderana.lk, a Sri Lankan news service.

“The decision to step down on 13 July was taken to ensure a peaceful handover of power,” Abeywardena said. “I therefore request the public to respect the law and maintain peace,” he said.

The speaker also said that Rajapaksa, who holds American as well as Sri Lankan citizenship, and has ruled over the South Asian country since 2019, has agreed to implement decisions taken at a meeting of political party leaders Saturday evening.

The news of the president’s decision triggered an eruption of celebratory fireworks in parts of Colombo, the nation’s capital.

The statement came as flames rose from the home of the country’s prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, who agreed to step down as thousands of protestors descended on Colombo.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa agreed to resign amid protests in the capital.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa agreed to resign amid protests in the capital.
Photo by Andy Buchanan – Pool/Getty Images
Protesters stormed the presidential palace and the prime minister's private residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka on July 9, 2022.
Protesters stormed the presidential palace and the prime minister’s private residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka on July 9, 2022.
Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images

Earlier in the day, militants protesting the country’s rampant inflation and a shortage of fuel, food and medicine, swarmed the presidential residence, with many diving into the pool.

Video footage on local news channels showed a huge fire and smoke coming from Wickremesinghe’s private home in an affluent Colombo neighborhood. His office said that protesters had started the fire.

There were no immediate reports of injuries in the blaze. Wickremesinghe had moved to a secure location, a government source told Reuters early in the day.

Police spraying water to control a demonstration outside of the presidential palace.
Police spraying water to control a demonstration outside of the presidential palace.
REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
Rajapaksa will officially step down on July 13.
Rajapaksa will officially step down on July 13.
Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

Inside the president’s house earlier in the day, a Facebook livestream showed hundreds of protesters, some draped in the national flag, packing into rooms and corridors.

Video footage showed some of them splashing in the swimming pool, while others sat on a four-poster bed and sofas. Some could be seen emptying out a chest of drawers in images that were widely circulated on social media.

At least 39 people, including two police officers, were injured and hospitalized during the protests, hospital sources told Reuters.

With Post wires



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