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Sri Lanka: Prime minister agrees to resign after protesters storm president’s palace

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has agreed to resign to make way for an all-party government amid protests at the president’s palace in Colombo.

The prime minister’s spokesman, Dinouk Colambage, said Mr Wickremesinghe told party leaders that he will resign when all parties have agreed on forming a new government, AP reports.

Protesters have stormed the Presidential Palace amid growing anger over the government’s handling of the economic crisis crippling the country.

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled his official residence in Colombo, a defence source told AFP, before protesters gathered in the compound to demand his resignation.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday summoned an emergency meeting of political party leaders.

In a statement issued on Saturday afternoon, his office said he has agreed to step down following demands by party leaders in Parliament.

Police had earlier fired tear gas at protesters who surrounded the official residence as they moved toward the main gates. The protesters eventually broke the barricades and entered the house.

The economic crisis has led to a heavy shortage of essentials like fuel, cooking gas and medicines, forcing people to stand in long lines to buy limited supplies. Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said last month that the country’s economy has collapsed.

The government’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund have been complex because it has now entered negotiations as a bankrupt state, AP reports.

In April, Sri Lanka announced it is suspending repaying foreign loans due to a foreign currency shortage.

Its total foreign debt amounts to $51 billion (£42bn) of which it must repay $28 billion (£23bn) by the end of 2027.

Police imposed a curfew in Colombo and several other main urban areas on Friday night but withdrew it Saturday morning amid objections by lawyers and opposition politicians who called it illegal.

Riot police and army personnel are deployed in the city, and the area surrounding the president’s official residence is heavily barricaded.


Source: Evening Standard


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