Amid widespread protests in Sri Lanka, 26-year-old dies after being tear-gassed outside PM’s office

Tear gas fired at protesters

Tear gas fired at protesters

Photo : AP

Colombo: As massive protests engulfed Colombo after Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa flew to the Maldives, a protestor reportedly died after forces fired tear gas shells to disperse the angry protesters who stormed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office.

The 26-year-old man was admitted to a hospital after he developed breathing difficulties after being tear-gassed outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Flower Road in Colombo earlier in the day.

The protestor was receiving treatment in a private hospital in Colombo, according to a report in Daily Mirror.

Earlier today, Sri Lanka declared a state of emergency as thousands of people surrounded the building of the Prime Minister’s office in Colombo, hours after the embattled President fled to the country, amid the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

Defying the emergency, the angry protesters broke through a barricade and barged into the Prime Minister’s office.

Rajapaksa, who had promised to resign on Wednesday, appointed PM Wickremesinghe as the acting President, worsening the political turmoil and triggering a fresh wave of protests.

Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena that Rajapaksa has appointed Wickremesinghe to perform his functions while he is abroad. The Speaker also said the vote for the new President will be held on July 20.

“Those who are in my office want to stop me from discharging my responsibilities as acting president. We can’t let them tear up our Constitution. We can’t allow fascists to take over. Some mainstream politicians too seem to be supporting these extremists. That is why I declared a nationwide emergency and a curfew,” Wickremesinghe said in a televised address, PTI reported.

The development got anti-government protesters riled up, who have been demanding President and Prime Minister’s resignation over mishandling the economy.

Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is facing an unprecedented economic crisis, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials.