Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday, 9 May, resigned from the post of Sri Lanka's prime minister, taking to Twitter to announce his decision. "Effective immediately I have tendered my resignation as Prime Minister to the President," the erstwhile PM wrote. Meanwhile, Rajapaksa's family residence in the city of Kurunegala in the north-western province was set on fire on later on Monday.
His resignation came after supporters of Rajapaksa's government, armed with sticks, clashed with protesters outside his residence, severely injuring at least 23 people. As per AFP, at least a dozen were hospitalised.
The police fired tear gas and used water cannons at the pro-government groups, who crossed police lines and destroyed tents of anti-government protesters, and a nationwide curfew was declared by Sri Lankan authorities in light of the violence.
Rajapaksa had been serving as the country's PM since 2019, and previously served as its president from 2005 to 2015.
In his resignation letter addressed to his younger brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, he wrote, "I am resigning with immediate effect so that you will be able to appoint an all-party government to guide the country out of the current economic crisis," AFP reported.
Demonstrators Set Fire to Cabinet Minister's House
Anti-government demonstrators set fire to the house owned by Sanath Nishantha, a minister in resigned PM Mahinda Rajapaksa's cabinet, after ruling party supporters stormed the anti-government protest camp in Arachchikattuwa.
Former minister Johnston Fernando's residence in Mount Lavinia was also targeted by the protesters. Footage from the scene showed plumes of smoke filling up the air.
Earlier, amid the altercation, MP Amarakeerthi Athukorala fired from his vehicle, critically wounding two demonstrators. The lawmaker was later found dead.
The Sri Lankan president had declared a state of emergency in the country from 7 May onwards, giving security forces sweeping powers amid anti-government protests. This marked the second time in five weeks that an emergency was declared in the country.
The island nation has been going through an economic meltdown of a scale unseen since the country's financial crisis of 1948. Prices of essential commodities like rice, milk, and oil have skyrocketed, resulting in massive nationwide protests and political instability.
(With inputs from AFP.)