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Sri Lankan PM agrees to quit amid biggest political turmoil

COLOMBO (AP) – Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister agreed to resign yesterday after party leaders in Parliament demanded both he and the embattled president step down on the day protesters stormed the president’s residence and office in a fury over a worsening economic crisis.

The prime minister’s spokesman Dinouk Colambage said Ranil Wickremesinghe told party leaders that he will resign when all parties have agreed on a new government.

His decision came after the biggest protest yet swept Sri Lanka as tens of thousands of people broke through barricades and entered President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence and nearby office to vent their anger against a leader they hold responsible for the nation’s worst crisis.

Rajapaksa appointed Wickremesinghe as prime minister in May in the hope that the career politician would use his diplomacy and contacts to resuscitate a collapsed economy. But people’s patience wore thin as shortages of fuel, medicine and cooking gas only increased and oil reserves ran dry.

Many protesters accuse Wickremesinghe of trying to save Rajapaksa when he came under pressure to resign, as every other member of his powerful political dynasty had quit the Cabinet.

Opposition parties in Parliament were currently in discussion about forming an all-party government.

It was not clear if Rajapaksa was inside his residence when it was stormed earlier yesterday.

Protestors gather inside the compound of Sri Lanka’s Presidential Palace in Colombo. PHOTO: AFP