Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was captured on video escaping via ship on the day protesters stormed his official Colombo residence.
In the video, President Rajapaksa is seen running and rolling his luggage onto a large navy ship. His escape comes after the storming of his official Colombo residence and the burning of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s home, which occurred on Saturday — now deemed D-Day. The large viral demonstrations took place despite the president’s attempts at a 36-hour state of emergency and ban of social media.
Upon the storming of the residence, Sri Lanka’s 26-member cabinet resigned en masse at midnight. Initially, the exceptions were President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
However, Wickremesinghe resigned soon after, stating on Twitter, “to ensure the continuation of the government including the safety of all citizens I accept the best recommendation for the Party Leaders today, to make way for an All-Party Government. To facilitate this I will resign as Prime Minister.”
Following the example, President Rajapaksa confirmed his previous announcement of resignation through Wickremesinghe’s office on Monday. As of this writing, Rajapaksa has yet to appear or speak in public.
The large-scale takeover by the demonstrators comes after months of protests on the streets of Sri Lanka and its worst economic crisis in history. Inflation in Sri Lanka has risen to above 50 percent, leading to crushing food and energy shortages. It led the country to run their foreign currency reserves into the ground and significantly increase foreign debt.
Although the government has been in difficult talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $3 billion bailout – in addition to receiving aid from the World Bank, India and the G7 – the government’s foreign debts total to $51 billion.
In addition, Sri Lanka police and military have been accused of using violence to push back demonstrations. With at least 55 people injured during protests, there have also been accusations of torture, tear gas use and the application of an “illegal” police curfew.