Sri Lanka crisis: Protesters storm inside PM Ranil Wickremesinghe's office, wave national flags
Sri Lanka economic crisis: According to latest reports from local media, the anti-government demonstrators stormed into Wickremesinghe's office, hours after he was named as acting president.
The situation in crisis-hit Sri Lanka worsened on Wednesday as the agitation intensified with the fleeing of embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa while handing over charges to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. According to reports from local media, the anti-government demonstrators stormed into Wickremesinghe's office, hours after he was named as acting president.
On Saturday, his private home was set ablaze after protesters captured Rajapaksa's office and home, forcing him to flee the country.
The protesters are demanding ouster of the President and Prime Minister, blaming the Rajapaksas and their allies for runaway inflation, corruption and a severe lack of fuel, medicines and other essentials.
"We are strongly against the Gota-Ranil government. Both have to go," news agency Reuters quoted Buddhi Prabodha Karunaratne, one of the organisers of the recent protests, as saying.
Earlier in the day, Wickremesinghe addressed the nation via television and urged angry protesters to return state buildings to state custody. "We can't tear up our constitution. We can't allow fascists to take over. We must end this fascist threat to democracy," he said.
He also ordered the military commanders and the police chief to take necessary steps to restore order.
Wickremesinghe had offered to resign as prime minister but did not repeat that offer after he became acting president on Wednesday. If he does go, the speaker would be acting president until a new president is elected on July 20 as scheduled.
According to reports, Rajapaksa has fled to Male, capital of nearby island nation Maldives, and is expected to most likely proceed to another Asian country from there.
Meanwhile, his brothers, former president and prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa, are still in Sri Lanka, reported Reuters citing government sources.
(With inputs from agencies)