COLOMBO: Police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of students trying to storm the Sri Lankan president’s home on Sunday as the government offered an olive branch to demonstrators demanding his resignation.
Anti-riot squads used water cannon followed by tear gas, as protesters pulled down yellow iron barricades across a road leading to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official residence in Colombo.
Nearby, thousands of men and women demonstrated for the 51st straight day outside Rajapaksa’s seafront office on Sunday, demanding that he step down over the country’s worst economic crisis since independence.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe went on national TV offering young protesters a greater say in how the country is administered.
“The youth are calling for a change in the existing system,” Wickremesinghe said, laying out plans for 15 committees that would work with parliament to decide national policies.
“I propose to appoint four youth representatives to each of the 15 committees,” he said, adding that they could be drawn from the current protesters.
Wickremesinghe was given the job after the president’s elder brother Mahinda resigned as prime minister on May 9 after weeks of protests, when no other legislator agreed to step in.