Sri Lankan President to Resign After Outraged Protesters Occupy His Home, Even Swim in His Pool

Sri Lankan President to Resign After Outraged Protesters Occupy His Home, Even Swim in His Pool

Sri Lanka’s government will soon be restructured after a series of escalating protests in the island nation’s capital demonstrated overwhelming distrust in the president’s leadership.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other top government officials lost significant support from constituents when alleged mismanagement steered Sri Lanka into a severe economic crisis.

For months, protesters have used peaceful methods to urge for new leadership, but over the weekend national unrest reached a crescendo, moving from the streets to the leaders’ Colombo homes.

On Saturday, one day after Rajapaksa fled his home, a large mob breached and occupied the official presidential residence. According to photos and witness accounts, protesters on the grounds have lounged on his furniture, lay in his bed, cooked in his kitchens and splashed around in his large pool.

Sri Lanka president pool

Sri Lanka president pool
Sri Lankan protestors swim in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s pool
| Credit: Eranga Jayawardena/AP

After a long day of protests Saturday, Rajapaksa announced his intention to resign, effective Wednesday.

Wickremesinghe also offered to resign — once a new government is in place — though his announcement did not absolve him, as protesters lit his private residence on fire. Like the president, Wickremesinghe was not home at the time of the incident.

After news broke that the protests had been successful, celebratory fireworks rang out in Colombo, BBC reports.

Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's private house is set on fire

Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s private house is set on fire
Sri Lankan protestors set Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s private residence on fire
| Credit: Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto/AP

“This was a failed president and a failed government,” Faiszer Musthapha, a member of an opposition party, told The Washington Post, adding that the president’s resignation “was the might of the people on show.”

Sri Lanka’s economic collapse is the nation’s worst financial crisis in 70 years, BBC reports. Inflation runs rampant and mass shortages on supplies like food, medicine and oil are weighing heavy on citizens, who have to wait in line for days just to acquire fuel for their vehicles, according to the outlet.

The economic situation — already reeling from a COVID-related halt in tourism dollars — has been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has proven to have worldwide consequences on prices and imports.

Though Sri Lanka remains in a place of political and financial turmoil, a chance at new, more representative leaders gives previously upset citizens a glimmer of hope.

“We had to oust these corrupt people who have brought us down to our knees,” protester Namal Ratnayake, 40, told The Washington Post. “My demand is that we have honest and educated people appointed from the present Parliament to take us out of this immediate mess.”

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“We can now move into a more acceptable long-term trajectory for the country and for the international community,” Eran Wickremerathne, a leader of the main opposition party, told the Post.