Amid rising violence, Mahinda Rajapaksa quits as Sri Lanka PM

May 10, 2022 12:00 am | Updated 05:43 am IST - COLOMBO

Decision comes after his supporters brutally assaulted peaceful protesters

Raging dissent:Vehicles set ablaze in front of outgoing PM Mahinda Rajapaksa's official residence in Colombo.AFPISHARA S. KODIKARA

Raging dissent:Vehicles set ablaze in front of outgoing PM Mahinda Rajapaksa's official residence in Colombo.AFPISHARA S. KODIKARA

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Monday, his office said, hours after his supporters brutally assaulted peaceful, anti-government protesters amid a worsening economic crisis in the island.

Three persons died outside the capital in ensuing clashes, while at least 150 were injured in Colombo. Government MP Amarakeerthi Athukorala reportedly shot two persons and then himself after being surrounded by a mob in the neighbouring Gampaha district, the police told AFP. Homes of several ruling party lawmakers were torched, while some among anti-government protesters assaulted government supporters who turned up in Colombo, amid escalating violence on the streets.

After peaceful citizens’ protests for a month at Colombo’s seafront, and longer in other parts of the country, Sri Lanka descended into violence on Monday morning, after several busloads of supporters of Mr. Mahinda came to Colombo amid speculation of his resignation. They chanted slogans praising their beleaguered leader who, along with his younger brother President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is the target of anti-government protests in the island that is facing a grave economic crash, marked by acute food, fuel, and cooking gas shortages.

The agitations intensified last week, in the wake of a worsening crisis for which demonstrators blame the ruling Rajapaksa brothers. Should the Prime Minister's resignation be accepted by the President, the Cabinet will stand dissolved as per Sri Lanka's Constitution.

Protesters injured

Earlier, addressing supporters at Temple Trees, his official residence, Mr. Mahinda said he was “willing to make any sacrifice for the people of the country.” Soon after the meeting, the supporters were seen pulling down tents of protesters in front of Temple Trees, and they soon proceeded north towards the Presidential Secretariat where they demolished several tents, including one of St. John’s Ambulance, that have come up at the agitation site ‘Gota go gama’ or ‘Gota go village’. They torched a library set up in the area and injured several protesters.

A group of pro-government men pushed and continuously kicked activist Vimukthi De Silva, badly injuring her leg. She was at the spot to attend a discussion on the government’s environment policy — several talks have been held at the agitation site regularly — when the raging mob approached her.

“I was trying to stand far away and stream the attacks live on social media. They tried to pull away my phone. They asked me are you Tamil, don’t remember that he [Mahinda Rajapaksa] ended the war? How could you protest against him, and violently attacked me,” she said, hours later, with her right foot heavily bandaged.

Top News Today


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.