Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa steps down

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Embattled president to resign on July 13, the announcement came after a tumultuous day in which protesters stormed his residence and set the prime minister’s home on fire.

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has agreed to step down next week, an official said, after protesters stormed the presidential palace and set fire to the prime minister’s home to vent their anger over a worsening economic crisis.

Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said in a televised statement on Saturday that Rajapaksa has agreed to resign on July 13.

“The decision to step down on July 13 was taken to ensure a peaceful handover of power,” Abeywardena said.

“I therefore request the public to respect the law and maintain peace.”

The news of the president’s decision triggered an eruption of celebratory fireworks in parts of the capital, Colombo.

“Today is independence day for me being born in this nation, not 1948, because today we have fought for our freedom from the tyranny and the scoundrels and greedy politicians who have run our nation to ground zero,” one protester told

Earlier in the day, Rajapaksa was evacuated from the presidential palace in Colombo, before thousands of protesters stormed the building, demanding his resignation.

A Facebook livestream from inside the president’s house showed hundreds of protesters packing into rooms and corridors, shouting slogans against the beleaguered 73-year-old leader. Footage of protesters standing and some bathing in the swimming pool inside the president’s home widely circulated on social media.

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