This weekend was the most tumultuous weekend in months of political instability in Sri Lanka, with demonstrators attacking both officials’ residences and setting one of the buildings on fire in anger over the country’s dire economic problems. The president and prime minister agreed to step down on Saturday(7/10/22). Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that he would stand down once a new government was in place, and hours later, Speaker of Parliament Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced that he, too, would step down on Wednesday. Pressure mounted on the two men as the economic downturn resulted in severe shortages of needs including food, fuel, and other necessities. An attempted curfew was lifted when lawyers and opposition politicians blasted it as an unconstitutional measure to suppress protests. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators descended on Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, and crowded into Rajapaksa’s heavily protected home. Many people were captured on video using their cell phones to take pictures while relaxing on the beds next to a garden pool. Some brewed tea, while others released comments from a conference room pleading with the president and prime minister to step down from their posts.
Mohan Samaranayake claimed he didn’t know where Rajapaksa was at the time and couldn’t comment on the president’s whereabouts. Later, protesters broke into Wickremesinghe’s private residence and set it ablaze, according to the prime minister’s office. Whether or whether he was present at the time of the invasion was not immediately evident to everyone. An earlier protest that included flag-waving, drum-banging, and slogan-chanting was met with police use of tear gas. More than 30 people were injured as a result of the mayhem on Saturday. Rajapaksa agreed to step down as president after the speaker informed him that parliamentary leaders had gathered and decided to ask him to step down, according to a televised announcement from Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena. However, Abeywardena said that Rajapaksa would remain in office for the time being to guarantee a seamless transition of power. During a time when rising energy and food prices have affected much of the world, this country’s downward spiral has played out in full force. There has been an increase in energy prices as a result of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine as well as the sanctions that followed.