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Sri Lanka crowd breaks Rajapaksa grip on power-By Anbarasan Ethirajan

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President Rajapaksa’s resignation has been the main demand of the protesters during months of unrest, as inflation surges and the authorities struggle to import food, fuel and medicine.

Sri Lanka is facing a crippling foreign currency shortage and has asked the International Monetary Fund for an emergency loan.

Sri Lanka crowd

Security forces fired water cannon and tear gas in an effort to disperse the crowd

I have seen President Rajapaksa at the peak of his power. He was a ruthless and much-feared man. No-one, including journalists, would want to be on the receiving end of his angry outbursts.

Many of the staunchest critics of the regime were either severely beaten or even disappeared, though the Rajapaksas – the president and his brother, former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa – always denied any links to the violence or disappearances.

Now President Rajapaksa fleeing his official home for safety is dramatic – unthinkable a few months ago. The man had the support of the majority Sinhala Buddhist community, after leading the military to crush the separatist Tamil Tigers in 2009.

The Rajapaksa brothers were then celebrated as war heroes. In a dramatic twist, now they face the ignominy of being overthrown by the same people who brought them to power.

Protesters storming Temple Trees, Colombo, 9 Jul 22
Image caption,

Protesters got onto the roof of Temple Trees, the prime minister’s official residence

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