Sri Lanka protests see thousands storm president's palace and swim in pool as country's economy collapses | The Sun
THOUSANDS of protesters in Sri Lanka have stormed the President's palace and were even spotted swimming in the pool amid the country's economic crisis.
Demonstrators stormed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's home and nearby office in Colombo as the country is battling its worst crisis in years.
Dramatic footage showed hundreds of protesters inside and outside his home, chanting and carrying national flags with some even dipping in the garden pool for a swim.
Others were seen walking around the house and watching TV while outside the building barricades were overturned and a black flag was hoisted on a pole.
Security staff tried to stop demonstrators who pushed through fences to run across the lawns and inside the building.
At least 34 people including two police officers were wounded in scuffles as protesters tried to enter the residence.
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Meanwhile, demonstrators also stormed the President's seaside office in a nearby building.
The president was moved to a secure location as a safety precaution, according to two defence ministry sources, Sky reported.
The country's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who took over in May, has agreed to step down following demands by party leaders in Parliament, his Office said.
Last month he announced that the country's economy had collapsed and said it is now a bankrupt state.
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Sri Lanka's crisis has been attributed to a number of reasons including the Covid pandemic, huge tax cuts and massive debts.
The country is battling the worst financial crisis as its leaders try to negotiate a bailout with the International Monetary Fund.
The economic meltdown has led to severe shortages of essential items, leaving people struggling to buy goods including food and fuel.
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 of which it must repay $28 billion by the end of 2027.
The political turmoil has led to months of protests with people calling for the President to resign.
US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung asked people to protest peacefully and called for the military and police to grant peaceful protesters the space and security to do so.
"Chaos & force will not fix the economy or bring the political stability that Sri Lankans need right now," Chung said in a tweet.
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The unrest in Sri Lanka has led the UK government to put the country back on the travel ban list, as TUI has cancelled flights to Sri Lanka.
The Foreign Office said in a statement: "The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka, due to the impact of the current economic crisis."
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