Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa flees as protesters surround residence
| Updated: Saturday, July 9, 2022, 14:18 [IST]
Colombo, July 09: Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday reportedly fled his official residence as protesters surrounded the house in Colombo.
Protesters demanding Gotabaya Rajapaksa's resignation surrounded his residence following which the top Lankan leader escaped, defence sources were quoted as saying by news agency AFP.Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa
According to reports, the President's whereabouts are not known but it is suspected that he is at the heavily-guarded Army headquarters in Battaramulla.
The developments were reported just shortly after Sri Lankan Police fired tear gas at protesters in the commercial capital to control thousands gathered for one of the largest anti-government marches in the crisis-hit country this year.
Thousands of people packed in buses, trains and trucks from across the South Asian nation swarmed into Colombo's government district, to express outrage over the government's failure to protect them from economic ruin.
Video footage of Sri Lankan protesters taking over President's office in Colombo
📸 Buddi U Chandrasiri pic.twitter.com/FINwaaqUat— NewsWire 🇱🇰 (@NewsWireLK) July 9, 2022
The island of 22 million people is struggling under a severe foreign exchange shortage that has limited essential imports of fuel, food and medicine, plunging it into the worst financial turmoil in seven decades.
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Many blame the country's decline on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Largely peaceful protests since March have demanded his resignation.
Protesters carried black and national flags and shouted 'Gota go home', using a common shortened version of the president's name.
They marched towards a police and military security cordon surrounding key buildings, including the President's House and Finance Ministry, near Colombo's scenic coastline.