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Sri Lanka students mob PM’s home over economic crisis

COLOMBO (AFP) – Thousands of Sri Lankan university students mobbed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s home yesterday demanding his resignation over the island nation’s worsening economic crisis.

Months of lengthy blackouts, record inflation and acute food and fuel shortages have sparked increasing public discontent in Sri Lanka, which is dealing with its worst economic downturn since independence in 1948.

Sunday’s protest saw student leaders scale the fence of Rajapaksa’s compound in Colombo after police erected barricades on various roads around the capital to stop them from linking up with demonstrators elsewhere.

“You can block the road, but can’t stop our struggle until the entire government goes home,” one unidentified student leader said while standing on top of the walls. Police said Rajapaksa, the head of Sri Lanka’s ruling clan, was not on the premises at the time and the crowd left peacefully.

For more than two weeks, thousands of protesters have been camped daily outside the seafront office of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa – Mahinda’s younger brother – demanding for the pair to step down.

Nationwide demonstrations have seen crowds attempt to storm the homes and offices of government figures.

This week a man was shot dead when police fired on a road blockade in the central town
of Rambukkana.

Sri Lanka’s economic collapse began to be felt after the coronavirus pandemic torpedoed vital revenue from tourism and remittances.

White flags are tied up at the fence of the Sri Lanka Prime Minister’s official residence. PHOTO: AFP