WATCH as citizens of Sri Lanka takeover Presidential Palace, dive into swimming pool

Some of the protesting Sri Lankans, who had taken over the official residence of the President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on Saturday, took a dip in the swimming pool on the premises.

Rajapaksa is reported to have fled as protesters invaded. Meanwhile, the private residence of the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, has been set on fire by the protesters.

Protests had been going on in the country for months, resulting in Saturday’s events.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has announced he will step down after protesters stormed his official residence and set the prime minister’s house on fire.

Neither the PM nor the president were in the buildings.

Hundreds of thousands descended on the capital Colombo, calling for Mr Rajapaksa to resign after months of protests over economic mismanagement.

Mr Rajapaksa will step down on 13 July. PM Wickremesinghe has agreed to resign.

Parliamentary speaker Mahinda Abeywardana said the president decided to step down “to ensure a peaceful handover of power”. 

“I therefore request the public to respect the law and maintain peace,” he said.

Just hours earlier, Ranil Wickremesinghe’s home was on fire after protesters broke in and set it alight. Videos circulating on social media show flames lighting up the night sky. 

Crowds had earlier overrun the official residence of Mr Rajapaksa, lounging in its state rooms and jumping in his pool. 

The country is suffering rampant inflation and is struggling to import food, fuel and medicine.

Large numbers of protesters travelled to the capital from across the country, with officials telling AFP news agency that some had even “commandeered” trains to get there.

Mr Rajapaksa vacated his official residence on Friday as a safety precaution ahead of the planned protests, two defence ministry sources said, according to Reuters.

The BBC has been unable to confirm the president’s whereabouts. A source close to the PM said he was in a “safe place”. 

Protesters made their way towards the president’s residence on Saturday morning, before breaking through barricades.

Hundreds of protesters made their way into the house, chanting slogans and waving the national flag.

Footage on social media soon showed people roaming through the house and splashing in the pool. Some could be seen emptying out a chest of drawers. 

Although it is Mr Rajapaksa’s official residence, he usually sleeps at a separate house nearby.

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