Calm returned to the streets of Sri Lanka’s commercial capital Colombo on Sunday, with protesters expressing delight that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa agreed to resign after storming his home amid anger over the country’s collapse.
The protesters, many of them draped in Sri Lankan flags, streamed into the president’s colonial-era residence on Saturday and jumped into the swimming pool.
Others set fire to the private home of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who also agreed to resign to make way for an all-party government.
The parliament speaker said Rajapaksa, the hero of the quarter-century civil war against the Tamil rebels, plans to resign on Wednesday.
Thousands gathered in the port city calling for Rajapaksa’s resignation after months of mismanagement of the crisis, in a dramatic escalation of peaceful anti-government protests on the island near major shipping lanes.
On Sunday, protesters continued to roam around the president’s residence, parts of which were destroyed.
Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abiwardena said in a video statement that Rajapaksa had told him he would step down on Wednesday.
“(The president) took the decision to step down on July 13 to ensure a peaceful handover of power…so I ask the people to respect the law and maintain peace,” Abiwardena added.
Wickremesinghe’s office said the prime minister had agreed to step down.
Local news channels showed a huge fire and smoke billowing from his home in a wealthy suburb of Colombo.
Wickremesinghe has been prime minister six times and is also seen as part of the ruling elite that is indifferent to the people.
Neither the president nor the prime minister was present when people attacked their homes.
The International Monetary Fund, which is in talks with the Sri Lankan government about a possible $3 billion bailout, said on Sunday it was closely monitoring the situation.
“We hope to find a solution to the current situation that will allow the resumption of our dialogue on a program supported by the International Monetary Fund,” the World Bank said in a statement.
He added that he was deeply concerned about the impact of the economic crisis on people.