Sri Lankans roam the ransacked presidential palace a day after it was stormed by thousands of people outraged by the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

President Gathabai Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that they were going to resign in the face of protests.

The Prime Minister’s personal residence was set on fire on Saturday night after a day of rioting in Colombo.

On Sunday, calm returned to the city.

Thousands of people with their families are crowded in and around the presidential palace, and streams of people with small children and food are blocking the lines to enter the president’s house.

Speakers are installed in the trees, urging visitors to be patient and stand in a one-way queue for a “whimsical” tour of the palace.

Indika Jayavaradhan, who visits the residence with his wife and two children, says, “They thought we got independence from the British in 1948, but today is our real Independence Day.”

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Indika Jayavaradana with his wife and children visits the President’s house in Sri Lanka
Protesters inspect the official residence of the president.  Photo: AP
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Protesters inspect the official residence of the president. Photo: AP
Women use the presidential gym in Sri Lanka
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Women use the presidential gym in Sri Lanka

About the president, he adds: “He can leave, but he can be replaced by someone loyal to him. It worries me.”

The organizers of the protest, who were among the first to break into the residence, turned into tour guides.

They rush the crowd and follow the instructions from the speakers.

They have complete control of the building. Some cops outside – other officers are wandering through the crowd, taking pictures, just like everyone else.

During the protests, 39 people were injured

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Tear gas and water cannons were used against protesters in Sri Lanka

There seems to have been no attempt to stop it.

During the protests on Saturday, 39 people were injured, including two policemen.

The police fired into the air, but were unable to stop the angry crowd that surrounded the presidential residence.

Hundreds of flag-waving protesters gathered on the presidential waterfront and used the pool live on Facebook.

Picnics and rest in the palace

People prepare food in the garden of the Prime Minister's residence
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People prepare food in the garden of the Prime Minister’s residence
Protesters rest on couches in the living room of the Prime Minister's official residence.  Photo: AP
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Protesters rest on couches in the living room of the prime minister’s official residence. Photo: AP

Protesters also gathered near the presidential secretariat, the president’s office and the prime minister’s house.

Both Mr. Rajapaksa and Mr. Wickremesinghe have been moved to safety.

Sri Lanka, home to 22 million people, is facing its worst economic crisis in seven decades since independence in 1948.

Inflation hit a record 54.6% in June and is expected to soar to 70%, putting pressure on a cash-strapped population.

The country is struggling with a severe foreign exchange shortage that has limited key imports of fuel, food and medicine.

Many blame Mr. Rajapaksa for the downfall.

https://news.sky.com/story/sri-lankans-take-selfies-and-use-the-gym-as-they-roam-around-ransacked-presidential-palace-after-night-of-unrest-12649273

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