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Pool party to celebrate the storming of Sri Lanka’s Presidential Palace

#Pool #party #celebrate #storming #Sri #Lankas #Presidential #Palace

After months of angry calls for the Sri Lankan President’s resignation, protesters were laughing, taking selfies and bathing when they suddenly found themselves inside his home.

The presidential palace in Colombo was overrun by hundreds of people on Saturday, capping months of public discontent over the island nation’s crippling economic crisis.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had fled moments earlier, aided by troops who fired in the air to clear his escape.

After he left, the mood inside the compound was festive as the crowd put aside frustrations over prolonged food and fuel shortages and a tense standoff with security forces earlier in the day.

“We’re in Gotabaya’s room, these are the underwear he left behind,” said a young man while holding up black briefs in a live video shared to multiple social media channels.

“He also left his shoes behind.”

On the grounds of the compound, dozens of men stripped off their shirts and jumped into the presidential pool, some somersaulting and frolicking in the water.

Hundreds of others sat on carefully manicured lawns for a break from the morning standoff with police officers who fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters.

The crowd had managed to work their way into the compound after dismantling barricades and scaling the high gates with the help of a captured police truck.

As the protesters charged forward, the police and army troops guarding the residence melted away.

Elite police officers remained stationed inside, but made no attempt to remove the intruders leisurely roaming the mansion.

Part of the crowd took turns lounging on Rajapaksa’s king-size bed and the comfortable sofas.

The protesters also helped themselves to the President’s pantry, where snacks and soft drinks were spread out on counters.

“I was surprised to see that his bathroom had air conditioning working. We have to put up with endless power cuts,” a man who entered the palace told AFP by phone.

– “We shouldn’t be thieves” –

As they marched in, a university student climbed onto a gatepost and yelled at the crowd not to destroy or loot the state residence, which houses a repository of priceless artifacts.

“We called Gota a thief and got him out, please don’t remove anything from the palace,” he said.

“We should not be thieves like the Rajapaksas.”

The Presidential Palace was formerly known as the “Queen’s House” and was the official residence of the British governors until Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948.

It has been the official residence of Sri Lanka’s heads of state ever since – but many previous leaders have believed it to be haunted.

Only one President had lived there briefly in recent years, while all others had only used it to receive visiting dignitaries.

Rajapaksa moved there in April, shortly after thousands of protesters tried to enter his home during a mass demonstration.

This residence was not overrun, but he moved to the presidential palace in the ultimately vain hope that it would be safer.

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#Pool #party #celebrate #storming #Sri #Lankas #Presidential #Palace

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