Sri Lanka: Protesters say they found millions of rupees in Prez Rajapaksa house; army chief appeals for peace

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan police on Sunday arrested three people for setting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's private residence on fire a day earlier, amidst massive anti-government protests

Photo courtesy: Twitter/@TheCitizen1
Photo courtesy: Twitter/@TheCitizen1

NH Web Desk

The anti-government protesters in Sri Lanka who stormed embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's official residence have claimed to have recovered millions of rupees inside his mansion, according to a media report on Sunday.

A video is being shared on social media showing the protesters counting the currency notes that were unearthed. The recovered money was said to be handed over to the security units, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported.

Authorities have informed that they will take steps to announce the ground situation after probing the relevant facts, the daily reported.

Sri Lankan Army chief General Shavendra Silva on Sunday sought people's support to maintain peace in the island nation as it grapples with an unprecedented economic crisis, NDTV reported.

Meanwhile Sri Lankan police on Sunday arrested three people for setting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's private residence on fire a day earlier, amidst massive anti-government protests, media reports said.

A group of irate protesters on Saturday entered Wickremesinghe's private residence at Cambridge Place here and set it on fire amid a massive public protest in the country over the unprecedented economic crisis.

Among those arrested include a 19-year-old Mount Lavinia resident and two residents of Galle, aged 24 and 28 respectively, web portal Colombo Page reported, quoting the Police Spokesman SSP Nihal Talduwa.

More arrests are on the anvil, as the police have widened their scope of investigations, he said.

Talduwa said the suspects are currently in the custody of Colpetty Police, and will be produced in court later on Sunday, web portal Lanka First reported.

The residence was replete with a rare collection of books and old Buddha statues, most of which Wickremesinghe had inherited, the report said, quoting a spokesperson of the Prime Minister's Office.

The extent of the damage to the building is not yet known.

Wickremesinghe and his spouse Professor Maithrie Wickremesinghe stayed in this residence, the report said.

The incident came hours after Wickremesinghe offered to resign to make way for an all-party government.

Embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has also offered to resign on July 13.

Hours before his decision, a huge mob on Saturday broke the police cordon and entered the Presidential House in central Colombo's high-security Fort area, as they demanded his resignation over the island nation's worst economic crisis in recent memory. Another group of protesters entered the private residence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and set it on fire.

The President's whereabouts is still not known. His only communication outside since the protesters stormed into the city has been with the Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, who announced late Saturday night that the President would resign on Wednesday.

President Rajapaksa informed the Speaker about this decision to quit after Abeywardena wrote to him seeking his resignation following the all-party meeting of leaders held Saturday evening.

The Speaker would become the acting President in the absence of both the President and the Prime Minister. Later, an election among MPs must happen to elect a new President. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has also offered to resign.

In May, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's elder brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had to quit in the face of massive anti-government protests.

The Rajapaksa brothers, Mahinda and Gotabaya, were hailed by many in Sri Lanka as heroes for winning the civil war against the LTTE but they are now blamed for the country's worst economic crisis.

The expected exit of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday and the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister in May is a dramatic fall from grace for a powerful family that has dominated Sri Lankan politics for more than a decade.

Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, crippled by an acute shortage of foreign exchange that has left it struggling to pay for essential imports of fuel, and other essentials.

The country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026.

Sri Lanka's total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion.

With PTI inputs

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