Mahinda Rajapaksa leaves Temple Trees under army guard...

Mahinda Rajapaksa leaves Temple Trees under army guard

 International Desk

 Published: 05:01 PM, 10 May 2022   Updated: 05:14 PM, 10 May 2022

Sri-Lankan former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s residence was set on fire on Monday night; Photo: Collected

Sri-Lankan former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s residence was set on fire on Monday night; Photo: Collected

Sri Lanka’s outgoing Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has left his official residence in the face of widespread protests. Despite being a powerful politician and was in power in the country more than once, his departure has been a great shame.

Mahinda Rajapaksa left the Prime Minister’s official residence, Temple Trees, in Colombo on Tuesday (May 10). Earlier, thousands of protesters broke through the main gate of the residence and stormed inside. They tried to attack the main two-storey building of the Temple Trees residence in the capital. There, the Mahinda Rajapaksa was trapped with his family members.

A top security official told the AFP news agency that “the army had evacuated the former prime minister and his family members in an operation just before dawn”. “At least 10 petrol bombs were hurled at the Prime Minister’s residence,” he said.

Mahinda Rajapaksa has been shifted to an unknown location. Earlier in the day, at least five people were killed in violent protests across the country. Among those killed was a lawmaker. It was initially known that he shot himself when apprehended by protesters. About 200 more people were injured in the protest.

Security officials said police fired continuous tear gas at all three gates to prevent the protesters from entering the Prime Minister’s residence. Blank shots were also fired. The colonial building is considered a symbol of state power. 

A state of emergency has been declared in Sri Lanka since Friday. A curfew was then imposed to quell the protests. Meanwhile, the homes of several Rajapaksa loyalists were set on fire during protests across the country on Monday. Rajapaksa’s ancestral home in Hambantota was also set on fire.

Protesters and the country’s religious leaders have blamed the former prime minister for inciting the attacks on unarmed protesters on Monday. This led to a counter-attack.

Sri Lanka is facing the worst economic crisis in the history of the country due to some wrong decisions of the government along with the COVID pandemic situation. The country has been in a severe food, fuel and medicine crisis for months. Inflation has risen sharply, and power outages continue. In such a situation, protests have been going on in the country for more than a month demanding the fall of the government.

The opposition alleges that Sri Lanka “sinks into foreign debt”, and “reserves sink into the bottom” due to mismanagement of the economy. 

Mahinda Rajapaksa was asked by Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is also his younger brother, to resign at a Cabinet meeting on Friday to resolve the stalemate. Mahinda Rajapaksa established the Rajapaksa family dominance in the country a decade ago by suppressing the independence-loving Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka.

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s resignation paints a picture of the same person facing two different situations over time. Mahinda Rajapaksa has been considered the most powerful person in Sri Lanka for years. His popularity soared after the suppression of the Tamil rebellion. There are also allegations that his forces committed war crimes to suppress the insurgency.