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Extraordinary scenes in Sri Lanka are the product of a man-made disaster

The unprecedented events at Colombo were the culmination of more than three months of protests from ordinary Sri Lankans against government officials, in particular President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Thousands of protesters stormed the country’s Presidential Secretariat which is at the heart of government. Many protesters ran up the steps with the flag of the nation draped over their heads and into the famous building.

Protesters set fire to the home of the prime minister hours after he announced that he would resign. Under intense pressure, the president did it at 11pm local time.

There have been clashes among protestors and security forces in Colombo’s capital since morning.


Protesters marched on the presidential house, despite being repelled by police firing in the air and water guns, to force the president out of office. Many people are said to have been injured.

As they argued with the military, their patience was wearing thin.

They were able to overcome the obstacles of police with their sheer numbers, determination and momentum.

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They broke into the house of the president, climbed through its walls and explored the many rooms and gardens. They took selfies and photos as they went, warning their president to get out.

Few missed the chance to cool down in the pool at the most secure location in the country.

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Protesters bathe in the president’s pool

Rajapaksa was evacuated earlier to an undisclosed place, and reports claimed he had been transferred to a navy ship.

The official residence of Prime Minister Ranil Wikemesinghe, Temple Tree, was also stormed.

The prime minister was forced to resign in an emergency meeting to allow for the formation of an all-party government.

Unidentified lawyer said that he believed the struggle of people was moving forward at the moment. I wish you all the best in your struggle, and that we make positive changes for our country at the end.

The worst economic crisis in Sri Lanka’s history has impacted 22 million people. This has caused high prices and fuel shortages.

For decades, successive governments have not addressed the deep-rooted economic crisis.

The crisis has been exacerbated by the reckless and poorly managed economic policies of Rajapaksa’s administration.

Image: A crowd gathers outside the office of President Colombo. Pic by AP
Image: Protestors inside President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s home in Colombo. Pic: AP

The structural deficiencies in the government’s economic policies were exposed by tax cuts, import restrictions, and a reluctance of prudent economic reforms.

International agencies have downgraded the country due to a severe balance payment crisis. This further hinders foreign investment opportunities.

Image: Protesters were equipped with gas masks. Pic by AP

The industry generates over $4bn annually, but was severely affected by the COVID pandemic.

The government borrowed heavily to cover short-term expenses, putting the country in a debt trap.

The country is practically bankrupt and has no foreign reserves to purchase vital commodities.

It defaulted on $51bn of external debt, and is currently in negotiations for a bail-out of $3bn with the International Monetary Fund.

The current deficit is so large that the loans might not be enough to resolve the balance of payments problems.

For the moment, however, ordinary Sri Lankans will be the ones who are suffering the most severe man-made disasters the country has ever seen.


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