By The Associated Press
Protesters sitting at a desk in the prime minister’s office and waving national flags from the building’s rooftop terraces. Ordinary Sri Lankans sprawling in plush living rooms, playing a piano and marveling at paintings in the vacated presidential palace.
The images of protesters taking over government buildings amid clouds of tear gas and making themselves at home in the lavish surroundings are a striking contrast to the privations of everyday life amid Sri Lanka’s economic collapse.
The protesters who have occupied the presidential residence since Saturday and stormed the prime minister’s office on Wednesday vow they will stay until both men resign.
Security forces initially used tear gas to try to disperse the protesters at the prime minister’s office, but later some retreated and others just stood around the overrun compound.
At the presidential palace, guards have continued their patrols but haven’t intervened as farmers, laborers and students crowded the hallways and airy verandas of the colonial-era residence.
“This belongs to the people,” laborer Padama Gamage declared at the president’s residence after traveling on a bus from Galle, on the country’s southwestern tip, to Colombo to join the demonstrations. “Now I know how these leaders enjoyed luxury at our cost.”