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Sri Lanka protest sites calm as president’s resignation awaited

Sri Lanka was calm as people waited for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who fled to the Maldives to escape a popular uprising that erupted as the country struggled with an economic crisis.

His decision to make his ally Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe the acting president triggered more protests, with demonstrators storming parliament and the premier’s office demanding that he quit too, Reuters reported.

Rajapaksa repeatedly assured the speaker of parliament that he would step down on Wednesday, but his resignation letter had not arrived as of Thursday, said an aide to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Sri Lankans wandered the halls inside the president’s residence taking in the building’s extensive art collection, luxury cars, and swimming pool.

“The fight is not over,” said Terance Rodrigo, a 26-year-old student who was inside the compound since it was taken over by protesters, along with the prime minister’s official residence.

“We have to make society better than this. The government is not solving people’s problems.”

Protests against the economic crisis have simmered for months and came to a head last weekend when hundreds of thousands of people took over government buildings in Colombo, blaming the powerful Rajapaksa family and allies for runaway inflation, shortages of basic goods, and corruption.

Police said one person was killed and 84 injured in clashes between riot police and protesters near the parliament building and the prime minister’s office, as people demanded the ouster of both Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe.

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