Colombo [Sri Lanka]: After a dramatic escalation in anti-government protests in Colombo over a dire economic crisis, the United States has urged Sri Lankan leaders to act quickly to seek long-term solutions.
The United States calls on “the Sri Lankan Parliament to approach this juncture with a commitment to the betterment of the nation – not any one political party,” a State Department spokesperson said as Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Thailand. “We urge this government or any new, constitutionally elected government to work quickly to identify and implement solutions that will achieve long-term economic stability and address the Sri Lankan people’s discontent over the worsening economic conditions, including power, food and fuel shortages,” State Department spokesperson added, reported Sri Lankan Daily Newspaper, Daily Mirror.
The United States also warned against attacks on protesters or journalists, but also criticized violence on Saturday. “The Sri Lankan people have the right to peacefully raise their voices, and we call for the full investigation, arrest and prosecution of anyone involved in any protest-related violent incidents,” the spokesperson said.
Several dramatic videos have been doing the rounds on social media after Saturday’s upheaval where thousands of protesters stormed into President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official residence in the capital of Colombo, forcing him to flee to an unknown location.
With the demand for the President’s resignation, the protestors stormed into the President’s house, tore down security cordons placed by police, took a dip in the swimming pool and romped through his kitchen and home.
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Shavendra Silva urged all citizens to give their support to the armed forces and the police in order to maintain peace in the country, as per the media portal. He made these remarks in a special statement accompanied by Tri Force Commanders.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan Minister of Tourism and Lands Harin Fernando and Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment Manusha Nanayakkara said they have decided to step down from their ministerial portfolios with immediate effect.
Sri Lankan protesters also broke into Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s private residence and set it on fire, angered by the unprecedented economic crisis.
Several journalists were also attacked by the security forces after which more protestors gathered in the area, Daily Mirror reported. Police resorted to water cannons to stop the enraged protestors.
The police also fired tear gas at the protesters but despite that, they entered PM’s house and set the house on fire. Meanwhile, Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) fire brigade said they were informed that the Prime Minister’s private residence in Colombo was set on fire and its teams were unable to reach the location due to the unrest, according to Daily Mirror.
Wickremesinghe, who was appointed as Prime Minister in May, has announced that he will resign from his post in order to ensure the continuation of the government and the safety of all the citizens.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa also agreed to step down from his post on Wednesday.