Sri Lanka protesters take dip in swimming pool after storming president’s residence

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Sri Lankan protesters took a dip in the garden pool of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence which they stormed on Saturday in one of the largest anti-government marches in the crisis-hit country this year.



It was not clear if Rajapaksa was inside his residence but footage showed hundreds of people inside the well-fortified house and on the grounds outside, some taking a dip in the pool and others in a jubilant mood.

Demonstrators protest inside President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence after he fled amid the country’s economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on July 9, 2022. (Reuters)
Demonstrators protest inside President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence after he fled amid the country’s economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on July 9, 2022. (Reuters)



A government spokesman, Mohana Samaranayake, said he had no information about Rajapaksa’s whereabouts.

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Sri Lanka’s economy is in a state of collapse, muddling through with aid from India and other countries as its leaders try to negotiate a bailout with the International Monetary Fund.

The economic meltdown has led to severe shortages of essential items, leaving people struggling to buy food, fuel and other necessities.

The turmoil has led to months of protests, which have nearly dismantled the Rajapaksa political dynasty that has ruled Sri Lanka for most of the past two decades.

The president’s older brother resigned as prime minister in May after violent protests saw him seek safety at a naval base, while three other Rajapaksa relatives had quit their Cabinet posts earlier.

Much of the public ire has been pointed at the Rajapaksa family, with protesters blaming them for dragging Sri Lanka into chaos with poor management and allegations of corruption.

A new prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, took over in May to help steer the country out of the crisis. Meanwhile, Rajapaksa has held on to power despite growing calls for him to quit.

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