SL Prez given deadline by protesters for exit, said to seek safe passage for family

Colombo, July 12 (IANS) Protesters in Sri Lanka on Tuesday declared a deadline for a peaceful resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa amid rumours that he would not step down from his post if his family was not allowed a safe passage from the country.
 
SL Prez given deadline by protesters for exit, said to seek safe passage for family

<br>The protesters have demanded, through social media announcements, that Rajapaksa must resign by 1 p.m. on Wednesday and warned that the people would be summoned to Colombo once again if he retracts the promise he has given to quit.

A representative of the protesters, who occupied the entrance to the President's House for over three months, has urged public to gather at the main protest site by 1 p.m.

As people took over the President's official residence on Saturday despite heavy<br>deployment of police and military who fired water cannons, tear gas and even used life bullets, injuring over 100 people, Rajapaksa announced that he would resign from his post.

However since Saturday, his whereabouts are unknown as the Speaker once announced he was out of the country and in a neighbouring nation but later withdrew his statement.

Protesters have announced that they would hand over the President's house as soon<br>as Rajapaksa resigns. They who have occupied Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's official residence, the Temple Trees, also have demanded the exit of the PM together with Rajapaksa.

Early on Tuesday, the President's brother and former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa tried to leave for the US but was prevented from leaving the country through the VVIP lounge of the main airport in Colombo. Rajapaksa was forced to leave the airport thereafter.

The south Asian island nation is going through a unprecedented economic crisis, which<br>the public blames on the Rajapaksa family who reigned over the country for most of the last two decades.

--IANS<br>sfl/vd