Several thousand students gathered on Sunday April 24 near the residence of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo. The latter tried to enter the property, during a demonstration to demand his resignation in the face of the serious economic crisis that Sri Lanka is going through.
Student leaders scaled the wall that surrounds Mahinda Rajapaksa’s property after police erected barricades in several thoroughfares around the capital to prevent a junction between protesters and other demonstrators.
On Saturday, the prime minister refused to step down, after his media minister and party officials backed protesters calling for his resignation.
“You can block the road, but you can’t stop our struggle until the whole government leaves,” said an unidentified student leader.
Police said Mahinda Rajapaksa, head of the family clan which also includes his brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was not at the scene at the time of the protest and the crowd had dispersed in a peaceful manner.
Sri Lanka at the heart of an economic crisis
For more than two weeks, thousands of protesters have camped daily outside the office of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to demand his resignation and that of his older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Crowds of demonstrators tried to invest the residences and offices of members of the government. This week a man was killed in police shooting during a demonstration in Rambukkana (center).
The Sri Lankan economy collapsed after the crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic which notably wiped out the vital tourism sector. The country, which is experiencing record inflation, is unable to finance imports of essential goods, leading to shortages of rice, powdered milk, sugar, flour and medicine.
Fuel and electric current are rationed, with long queues forming in front of service stations. Finance Minister Ali Sabry, who is in Washington to negotiate a loan from the International Monetary Fund, warned on Friday that the economic situation could worsen further.