The abrupt departure of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka early Wednesday did little to quell the ire of protesters who have been filling the streets of the capital, Colombo, for months demanding his resignation.
Undeterred by tear gas, the scorching sun and a military helicopter hovering overhead, the crowds continued to swell Wednesday, reinforced by arrivals from across the country. Protesters marched from the president’s office and later in the day, stormed the office of the prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Riot police officers carrying rifles and wearing gas masks stood guard but didn’t engage the throngs of protesters, which included families with young children.
Many Sri Lankans digesting the news that the president had fled to the Maldives appeared to relish witnessing a monumental day in the country’s history, the culmination of monthslong protests over the country’s leaders driving its economy into abject crisis.
Protesters also demanded that Mr. Wickremesinghe, the prime minister, step down, chanting: “We don’t want the robber Ranil, the bank thief, the deal thief!” His office announced he would serve as acting president in Mr. Rajapaksa’s absence.
Wednesday, July 13
Police fired tear gas at protesters before protesters overran the prime minister’s office.
Protesters helping each other rinse off tear gas.
Protesters celebrated inside the prime minister’s office after taking it over.
Members of the army guarding a room inside the prime minister’s office.
Protesters cheering inside the prime minister’s office.
Tuesday, July 12
People taking photos outside the President’s Secretariat.
Graffiti on a wall near the president’s house showing messages from the protest movement demanding reforms.
People stood in line to enter the prime minister’s residence after protesters took it over.
Graffiti saying “Open to all” on the wall of the prime minister’s residence.
People took selfies inside the prime minister’s residence.
A man played the piano in the prime minister’s residence.
People taking photos inside the prime minister’s residence.
People in line to enter the president’s house after protesters overran it.