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Storming the prime minister's office, Sri Lankans demand that he resign as well

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English -  Just a few hours after Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the president of Sri Lanka , left the country on Wednesday, h...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English -  Just a few hours after Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the president of Sri Lanka, left the country on Wednesday, hundreds of protesters were battling riot police
in the streets and calling for the resignation of the prime minister as well.

As they attempted to enter Ranil Wickremesinghe's office, they shouted, "Ranil go home!"

As president-in-waiting Wickremesinghe ordered a curfew in the city and its environs and declared a national emergency after police repeatedly fired tear gas shells.

The demonstrators want him gone because they view him as a family friend of the Rajapaksa.

S. Shashidharan, 30, who claimed to have been tear gassed outside the prime minister's office, said, "We want Ranil to stand down." "Catch everyone who assisted Gota (the president) in escaping. We need our stolen funds returned."

A few kilometres (miles) away, hundreds of people peacefully queued up to tour Gotabaya's official mansion, in contrast to the street fights at the prime minister's office.

K.K. Subasinghe was among those in line awaiting entry into the former soldier's house who, along with his wife and two bodyguards, boarded a Sri Lankan air force aircraft and fled to the Maldives early on Wednesday morning.

On July 9, following significant demonstrations against his administration, Rajapaksa informed the speaker of parliament that he would resign.

Subasinghe said that he, too, had served in the army of Sri Lanka, taking part in the brutal civil war there against the Tamil Tiger insurgents. Rajapaksa, who was at the time the defence secretary, oversaw the end of the conflict in 2009.

Subasinghe, however, claimed to have little regard for Rajapaksa and had brought his family and brother along to show them the lavishness of the White House.

Subasinghe, wearing a collared t-shirt and khaki slacks and holding a green plastic bag, stated, "I wanted to offer them a peek of their (the Rajapaksas') luxurious lifestyle."

They demanded that we cultivate our own food and ride bicycles when we were in pain.

Although there was considerable doubt among those in line that Rajapaksa would actually resign, Subasinghe said he anticipated raucous celebrations when he ultimately did so.

We'll commemorate this historic day, he declared. If he doesn't step down, I believe the protest will grow larger than it was on July 9.

The masses gathered around the two-story colonial-style building's gardens, where some people rested on the grass while others snapped cellphone selfies.

The president's swimming pool, where demonstrators partied last week, was passed by volunteers leading groups. As they passed, a lone young man was in the dark, grey waters.

Subasinghe and his family have limited access to the ground floor of the main building. The demonstration organisers had roped off everything else, including the bedroom and spacious halls.

A BMW 7 series premium automobile was parked next to an adjacent building with the gasoline cap pryed open.

After their tour of the home was over, Subasinghe's older brother, M.D. Chandradasa, remarked, "I never expected this level of opulence."

"If you're the head of state, that's OK, but what about the common folk?" 



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