Sri Lankan President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has fled his official residence as anti-government protesters in their thousands stormed into the residence in central Colombo’s high-security Fort area.

The protesters broke barricades that protected the building and demanded his resignation over the island nation’s worst economic crisis in recent times.

According to reports, Rajapaksa left the official residence on Friday, 8th July 2022, as a safety precaution ahead of the planned weekend demonstration.

Hours after Sri Lankan President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled his official residence, some of the agitators were spotted taking a swim in the pool.

Hundreds milled about in the grounds of the colonial-era white-washed presidential residence, with no security officials in sight.

While some protesters were spotted shouting slogans, others were seen making videos.

Reports says the president was escorted to a safe location before demonstrators from across the country arrived in buses, trains, and trucks.

Anti-government Sri Lankans protesting state of economy

Police later arrived, firing tear gas shells to keep the situation under control.

At least 21 people, including two policemen, were injured in the protests.

Sri Lanka has been reeling under a severe economic crisis for months now due to a result of badly-timed tax sops, poor investments in projects, and Covid-induced restrictions including remittances from overseas workers.

People have been demanding the President’s resignation since March, 2022.

It has also been compounded by the build-up of hefty government debt, rising oil prices and a ban on the import of chemical fertilisers last year that devastated agriculture. The fertiliser ban was reversed in November 2021.

However, many blame the country’s decline on economic mismanagement by Rajapaksa and there have been months of largely peaceful protests demanding his resignation.

Story: Hilda Katu