Thousands of protesters have stormed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence in the capital of Sri Lanka.
Demonstrators from all over the country marched to Colombo demanding his resignation after months of protests over mismanagement of the country’s economic crisis.
Reports say he has already been moved to a safer location.
The country is suffering rampant inflation and is struggling to import food, fuel and medicine.
Thousands of anti-government protesters travelled in cars, vans and buses to the capital, with some even “commandeering” trains to get there.
They swarmed into Colombo’s government district, shouting slogans such as “Gota go home!” and breaking through several police barricades to reach President Rajapaksa’s house.
Police fired shots in the air to try and prevent angry crowds from overrunning the residence, but were unable to stop some of the crowd from entering.
Facebook livestream footage from inside the building showed hundreds of protesters packing into rooms and corridors, while hundreds also milled around the grounds outside, Reuters reported.
Authorities had attempted to stop the demonstration from taking place by imposing a curfew on Friday night. But protesters were undeterred, and the curfew was lifted after civil society groups and opposition parties strongly objected to it.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has summoned an emergency meeting of leaders of Sri Lanka’s political parties to discuss the crisis. He is also asking the Speaker to convene parliament.
Last week, the authorities suspended sales of petrol and diesel for non-essential vehicles in an attempt to preserve the country’s dwindling fuel stocks.
The government has been trying to secure fuel on credit from countries including Russia.
It has requested emergency financial help and it blames the Covid-19 pandemic, which all but killed off Sri Lanka’s tourist trade for the crisis.
But many experts say economic mismanagement is to blame.
Demonstrations have been taking place since March demanding that President Rajapaksa quit.
The deepening economic crisis saw the president’s older brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, forced to resign in May.
— World conflicts Monitoring Center (@WorldBreakingN9) July 9, 2022
WATCH: Protesters storm presidential palace in Sri Lanka as economic crisis worsens pic.twitter.com/diIVaXx8Cd
— BNO News (@BNONews) July 9, 2022