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Sri Lanka protesters in talks to end occupation of official buildings

Sri Lanka protesters in talks to end occupation of official buildings

[Image: 368aa7e5ec30468dc1007cdbbe201493c500b899...k=HBeq7PMI]

Sri Lanka's anti-government demonstrators were in talks on Thursday (Jul 14) to hand back official buildings they seizes, protest representatives said, even as they insisted the president and prime minister both quit in the face of an economic crisis.

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Protesters overran President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's palace at the weekend, forcing him to flee to the Maldives on Wednesday, when activists also stormed the office of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The prime minister, whom Rajapaksa named as acting president in his absence, has demanded the evacuation of state buildings and instructed security forces to do "what is necessary to restore order".

A top Buddhist monk supporting the campaign called for the more than 200-years-old presidential palace to be handed back to authorities and ensure its valuable art and artefacts were preserved.

"This building is a national treasure and it should be protected," monk Omalpe Sobitha told reporters. "There must be a proper audit and the property given back to the state."

Hundreds of thousands have visited the compound since it was opened out to the public after Rajapaksa fled and his security guards backed down.

"There is a move to return the buildings back to the authorities," an activist involved in the #GotaGoHome campaign told AFP.

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