Tens of thousands of protesters flooded the streets of the Sri Lankan capital over the weekend and inundated the presidential palace, with some storming the residence and forcing President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee.
Videos of the chaos were posted to social media.
Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has reportedly fled as angry protesters surround his residence demanding his resignation #SriLanka #SriLankaProtests #gotabayarajapaksa #SriLankaCrisis #SriLankaEconomicCrisis #GoHomeGota pic.twitter.com/DMr76T8XeE
— Suhail Kahraman ???? ??????? ????? ?????? (@Suhail_kahraman) July 9, 2022
One video clip posted to Twitter appears to show Rajapaksa and some of his family and entourage boarding a Sri Lankan warship, the SLNS Gajabahu.
Sri Lanka… President Rajapakse flees the country boarding a navy vessel pic.twitter.com/k1rLSC4D5K
— Pelham (@Resist_05) July 9, 2022
Yet another video appeared to show some protesters who had taken over one of the bedrooms and sitting rooms in the palace.
??- Protestors have taken over a bedroom and sitting room inside the President's House in Colombo pic.twitter.com/8kXZEANebl
— ???? ??????? ??? ??????? (@72powpow) July 9, 2022
Protesters also stormed the parliament building.
— NDTV (@ndtv) July 9, 2022
After storming the various residences and parliament building, protestors also called for Rajapaksa to resign. They jumped security fences that had been erected around the residence and then proceeded to overrun the president's security forces. Rajapaksa was evacuated from the palace around 1000 local time, his secretary Gamini Senarath told Bloomberg.
"The president was escorted to safety," a senior defense source told AFP. "He is still the president, he is being protected by a military unit."
"Protesters enjoying Sri Lanka’s absconding President’s swimming pool! No dictator should remain in illusion that the power is forever, and when the end comes, it is always violent and nasty," noted Ashok Swain, a professor of peace and conflict research at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden.
Protesters enjoying Sri Lanka’s absconding President’s swimming pool! No dictator should remain in illusion that the power is for ever, and when the end comes, it is always violent and nasty. pic.twitter.com/T3ePbkA0gM
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) July 9, 2022
In recent days, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe held emergency talks with leaders of Sri Lanka's political parties before the parliament speaker as the unrest reached climatic levels to decide on what to do next to try and resolve the worsening socio-economic crisis in the South Asian nation of 22 million.
Members of Parliament had asked Rajapaksa to resign and relinquish power to let a new leader with a parliamentarian majority regain control of the country and find a quick resolution to high inflation and shortages that have led to rising anger for months.
But now, the debt-laden economy of the country has "completely collapsed," with a lack of foreign exchange reserves necessary to buy items like fuel and food to sustain the country. The government began rationing goods last month due to shortages, and that included fuel.
"Even though the government has held talks with the IMF, India, China, and Japan for new credit lines and even spoke with Russia about purchasing heavily discounted crude, the country entered a terminal phase where social unrest is spiraling out of control," Zero Hedge reported.
"The Sri Lankan crisis carries the potential for an Arab Spring-style eruption across other countries that could quickly morph into an 'Everywhere Spring' as people worldwide are angered by high inflation and shortage of food and fuel. This eruption in unrest could eclipse the revolution seen in 2011 that spread across the Arabic-speaking world due to high food prices," the report continued.