Millions of rupees in cash left behind by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa when he fled his official residence in the capital will be handed over to court on Monday, police said.
Protesters discovered 17.85 million rupees (about $50,000) in crisp new banknotes but turned it over to police following Saturday’s storming of the Presidential palace.
“The cash was taken over by the police and will be produced in court today,” a police spokesman said.
Demonstrators called for the President to resignCredit: AFP
Official sources said a suitcase full of documents had also been left behind at the stately mansion.
Rajapaksa took up residence at the two-century-old building after he was driven out of his private home on March 31 when protesters tried to storm it.
In this file photo taken on November 22, 2019, Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (C) stands for the national anthem before the start of a ministerial swearing-in ceremony in Colombo. PHOTO/AFP
The 73-year-old leader escaped through a back door under escort from naval personnel and was taken away by boat, heading to the northeast of the island, official sources told AFP.
Thousands of men, women and children
poured into President Rajapaksa’s lavish mansion as months of frustration brought on by an unprecedented economic crisis boiled over. Protesters were seen jumping into the president’s swimming pool Credit: Twitter
His exact whereabouts were not known Monday morning, but Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Rajapaksa had officially informed him of his intention to resign.
The 73-year-old Wickremesinghe will automatically become acting president in the event of Rajapaksa’s resignation, but has himself announced his willingness to step down if consensus is reached on forming a unity government.
Demonstrators sleep on the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s bed Credit: Reuters
Rajapaksa had already told parliamentary Speaker Mahinda Abeywardana that he will quit on Wednesday to allow a “peaceful transition”, hours after he was forced out of his official residence.
Tens of thousands of protesters captured Rajapaksa’s sea-front office shortly after overrunning the palace on Saturday.Protesters had been camping outside the Presidential Secretariat for over three months demanding his resignation over the country’s unprecedented economic crisis.
A man tries gym equipment inside the president’s house gym Credit: Reuters Rajapaksa is accused of mismanaging the economy to a point where the country has run out of foreign exchange to finance even the most essential imports leading to severe hardships for the 22 million population.Thousands of men and women on Monday continued to occupy the state buildings they had taken over at the weekend, vowing to remain until Rajapaksa steps down. People crowd inside the president’s bedroom Credit: AFP The roads leading to the palace were choked with tens of thousands of people on Sunday visiting the mansion that had previously been the country’s most tightly-guarded building.An effigy of Rajapaksa was hung on a clock tower near the palace.The protesters are also demanding the resignation of Wickremesinghe, an opposition legislator who was made premier in May to try and lead the country out of its economic crisis. Protesters having refreshments inside the official residence of Sri Lanka’s President Credit: AFP Sri Lanka defaulted on its $51 billion foreign debt in April and is in talks with the IMF for a possible bailout.Sri Lanka has nearly exhausted its already scarce supplies of petrol. The government has ordered the closure of non-essential offices and schools to reduce commuting and save fuel. Protesters torched the PM’s home hours before he agreed to step down Credit: Getty Party mood
The protesters later stormed the president’s palace and had pillow fights, pool parties and gym workouts.Dramatic footage showed swarms of protesters inside and outside his home, chanting and carrying national flags with hundreds dipping in the garden pool for a swim.People were seen having pillow fights in the bedrooms of the ransacked palace and enjoying a sing-along on the grand piano – with some even making time for a quick workout in the swanky gym. Thousands of protesters stormed the President’s palace Credit: Twitter
In the “Gordon Garden” park of the palace, families enjoyed a picnic lunch as Buddhist monks in saffron robes marvelled at the marble floors and air conditioning.
Monk Sri Sumeda said: “When leaders live in such luxury, they have no idea how the commoners manage.
“This shows what can be done when people decide to exercise their power.”
Security forces used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protestersCredit: EPA
Outside, the building barricades were overturned and a black flag was hoisted on a pole.
Security staff tried to stop demonstrators but they were overwhelmed when the hoard pushed through fences, ran across the lawns and entered the building.
At least 34 people including two police officers were wounded in scuffles.
By AFP/The Sun
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