Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has agreed to step down on Wednesday, after protesters stormed the presidential palace and set fire to the Prime Minister’s house in Colombo.
Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said in a televised statement that Gotabaya Rajapaksa has agreed to resign on July 13.
“The decision to step down on July 13 was taken to ensure a peaceful handover of power,” Abeywardena said. “I therefore request the public to respect the law and maintain peace.”
The news of the President’s decision to finally step down triggered an eruption of celebratory fireworks in parts of Colombo. "Protesters have broken into the private residence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and have set it on fire," said the Lankan Prime Minister's Office in a statement.
Despite tear gas being fired on the protesters to disperse, they entered the Prime Minister's house. The protesters were seen damaging vehicles belonging to the Prime Minister. Mr Wickremesinghe, who was appointed as Prime Minister in May, has announced that he will resign from his post in order to ensure the continuation of the government and the safety of all the citizens.
"To ensure the continuation of the Government including the safety of all citizens I accept the best recommendation of the Party Leaders today, to make way for an All-Party Government. To facilitate this I will resign as Prime Minister," he tweeted after the meeting.
Former cricket captains Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardena condemned the violence and appealed for calm.