A day after hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans took to the streets and demonstrated against the country’s leaders, opposition parties gathered in the capital, Colombo.
According to opposition leader MA. Sumanthiran, they hope to obtain a majority in Parliament to force President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to form a new government.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said he will leave office as soon as a new government is formed. Wickremesinghe was appointed less than two months ago in a bid by President Rajapaksa to stem months of protests against the country’s government, which is believed to be responsible for the country’s economic crisis. Rajapaksa promised to resign on Wednesday.
The departure of the prime minister and president comes after a tragic day in the capital Colombo on Saturday when protesters stormed the two leaders’ homes. In TV photos and video shares on social media, protesters can be seen swimming in the presidential residence’s swimming pool after being forced through the gates of the house. Some are running around laughing and carrying their underwear into a bedroom that looks like a bedroom.
It remains unclear whether President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was at the residence at the time. The government spokesman said he did not know his whereabouts.
The demonstrators also stormed the private home of the Prime Minister and set it on fire.
Several people were injured in clashes between protesters, police and the army. A spokesman for Colombo’s largest hospital said on Saturday that three people were being treated for gunshot wounds and 36 for breathing difficulties after being exposed to tear gas.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has played an important role in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) over a rescue package for the country.
Analysts doubt that a new prime minister can do more than Wickremesinghe to solve the country’s crisis.
“Such unrest could create uncertainty within international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank,” political analyst Ranga Kalansuria told The Associated Press.
On Sunday, the US State Department called on the Sri Lankan government to move quickly to identify and find long-term solutions to the country’s problems. The Sri Lankan Parliament is being asked to handle the whole matter with the “best interests of the nation” in mind, rather than an “individual political party”.
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