Protesters demanding the resignation of the Sri Lankan president refuse to leave the presidential palace this Sunday, after they stormed the residence the day before, forcing the president to flee and announce his resignation this week.

Saturday’s dramatic events were the culmination of a wave of protests on this island, located off the southern coast of India and mired in an unprecedented economic and political crisis, which protesters attribute to the management of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in the capital Colombo to demand that Rajapaksa take responsibility for shortages of medicine, food and fuel that have thrown a relatively prosperous country into chaos.

After storming the presidential palace, which dates back to the colonial era, the crowd swept through the ostentatious rooms, some jumping into the pool and going through Rajapaksa’s wardrobe and belongings.

Troops fired into the air to allow the president to escape, and then Rajapaksa boarded a navy ship that took him off the island.

From there the 73-year-old president has clung to power, despite the wave of violence that left several dead in May and forced his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, who served as prime minister, to resign.

But finally Gotabaya Rajapaksa threw in the towel.

In the evening, the Speaker of Parliament announced on television that “to ensure a peaceful transition, the President said he would tender his resignation on July 13.”

Rajapaksa’s office located on the waterfront was also taken over by protesters and another group set fire to the residence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, despite the fact that he also announced his resignation.

Images posted on social media show a mob applauding the fire, which broke out shortly after security forces attacked several journalists.

Earlier, security forces attempted to disperse the huge crowds gathered in the administrative district, sparking unrest.

Colombo’s main hospital reported that it received 105 wounded on Saturday and that 55 were still hospitalized on Sunday.

Among the admitted patients there are seven wounded journalists.

“There is one person who is still in very serious condition after being hit by a bullet,” spokeswoman Pushpa Soysa told AFP.

Shortly after midnight, General Shavendra Silva called for calm.

“There is an opportunity to resolve the crisis situation in a peaceful and constitutional way,” Silva said in a brief speech on television.

A defense source reported that Rajapaksa will arrive at the Trincomalee naval base in the northeast of the island during the day on Sunday.

The United States urged Sri Lankan leaders to act “swiftly” to seek long-term solutions.

Washington called for “the Sri Lankan parliament to address this situation, with a commitment to what is best for the country and not for a particular political party,” said a spokesman, coinciding with the visit to Thailand of the head of the American diplomacy, Antony Blinken.

On Sunday, protesters still occupying the presidential palace said they will not leave until Rajapaksa is effectively out of power.

“Our fight is not over,” student leader Lahiru Weerasekara told reporters.

The activist said that when they crossed the last barrier they knew that the soldiers were going to shoot.

“We risk our lives,” he said. “We’re not going to give up our fight until he’s really gone.”

Sri Lanka has been enduring shortages of basic foodstuffs, power outages and runaway inflation for months after the country depleted its foreign exchange reserves needed for imports.

The government declared a moratorium on its debt for 51,000 million dollars and is seeking a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Two ministers resigned and two others were willing to leave the Government in Sri Lanka after the president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and the prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, announced that they would leave their positions.

“Sri Lanka should quickly identify and implement a solution that will enable it to achieve economic stability and address the needs of the people of this country,” Investment Promotion Minister Dhammika Perera said in his resignation letter.

In addition to Perera, recently appointed to the post, the Minister of Transport, Bandula Gunawardene, formally left the Government today.

The Ministers of Tourism, Harin Fernanda, and Foreign Labor, Manusha Nanayyakara, announced their willingness to resign.

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