Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has promised to step down next week, according to a government official, after demonstrators stormed the presidential palace and set fire to the home of the prime minister in response to a deteriorating economic crisis.
On Saturday, Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced on television that Rajapaksa had agreed to leave on July 13.
"Therefore, I appeal that the public observe the law and preserve peace."
Abeywardena stated that the decision to step down on the said date was made to ensure a peaceful transfer of power.
Colombo's metropolitan areas erupted in joyful fireworks upon hearing the president's decision.
One demonstrator said, "Today is independence day for me because I was born in this nation, not in 1948, because today we have battled for our freedom from the dictatorship, scoundrels, and greedy politicians who have brought our nation to its knees."
Rajapaksa was evacuated from the presidential palace in Colombo earlier in the day, prior to thousands of demonstrators storming the premises and demanding his resignation.
Social media widely disseminated footage of protesters standing and some bathing in the swimming pool inside the president's mansion.
A Facebook feed from inside the president's residence revealed hundreds of protesters filling rooms and corridors while chanting against the 73-year-old leader.
Later, protesters broke into Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's home and set it on fire. Wickremesinghe's private residence in an upmarket Colombo neighborhood was engulfed in flames and smoke, as captured on video by local news networks.
His administration reported that protesters caused the fire.
No injuries were reported immediately as a result of the conflagration. Earlier in the day, Wickremesinghe relocated to a secure location.
Wickremesinghe has also announced his upcoming resignation, but he has stated that he will remain in office until a new administration is established.
Wickremesinghe stated, "Today in this country, there is a fuel crisis, a food scarcity, the head of the World Food Programme is visiting, and we have other issues to discuss with the IMF. Therefore, if this administration quits, another government should take its place."
Wickremesinghe stated that he proposed an all-party administration to the president, but remained silent regarding Rajapaksa's whereabouts.
According to Amnesty International researcher Thyagi Ruwanpathirana, Sri Lanka "will not emerge from this crisis for some time."