Leaders of Sri Lanka’s protest movement said on Sunday they would occupy the residences of the president and prime minister until they finally quit office, the day after the two men agreed to resign, leaving the country in political limbo. Sri Lanka’s opposition political parties were meeting to agree on a new government after the country’s most chaotic day in months of political turmoil, which saw protesters storming both officials’ homes and setting fire to one of the buildings in a rage over the nation’s economic crisis. “The president (Gotabaya Rajapaksa) has to resign, the prime minister (Ranil Wickremesinghe) has to resign and the government has to go,” playwright Ruwanthie de Chickera told a news conference at the main protest site in Colombo on Sunday. Flanked by other leaders helping coordinate the movement against the government, she said the crowds would not move out of the official residences until then. The president’s whereabouts were unknown Sunday, although some reports said he was taking refuge on a vessel offshore, but a statement from his office said he ordered officials to start immediate distribution of a cooking gas consignment to the public, suggesting he was still at work. Amazed ordinary folk took the opportunity to tour the colonial-era presidential palace. Security forces, some with rifles, stood outside the compound but did not stop people from going in. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Saturday that he would leave office once a new government is in place, and hours later the speaker of parliament said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would step down on Wednesday. Among those taking a look in the palace was 61-year-old handkerchief seller B.M. Chandrawathi, who entered with her daughter and grandchildren. “I’ve never seen a place like this in my life,” she said. “They enjoyed super luxury while we suffered. We were hoodwinked.” Opposition lawmaker M. A. Sumanthiran said all opposition parties combined could easily muster the 113 members needed to show a majority in parliament, at which point they will request Rajapaksa to install the new government and then resign. He said the parties hoped to reach consensus on Sunday. Pressure on both men grew as the economic meltdown set off acute shortages of essential items, leaving people struggling to obtain food, fuel and other necessities. If both president and prime minister resign, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena will take over as temporary president, according to the constitution. Rajapaksa appointed Wickremesinghe as prime minister in May in an effort to solve the shortages and start economic recovery. Sri Lanka’s president and PM to resign following violent protests Wickremesinghe had been part of crucial talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout programme and with the World Food programme to face a predicted food crisis. The government must submit a plan on debt sustainability to the IMF in August before reaching an agreement. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that Russia’s restriction on Ukrainian grain exports may have contributed to Sri Lanka’s turmoil and voiced fear it could spur other crises. “We’re seeing the impact of this Russian aggression playing out everywhere. It may have contributed to the situation in Sri Lanka; we’re concerned about the implications around the world,” Blinken told reporters in Thailand. . Analysts say it is doubtful any new leader could do more in Sri Lanka than what Wickremesinghe had been doing. His government’s efforts showed promise, with much-needed fertiliser for next season’s cultivation and a first consignment of cooking gas orders arriving on Sunday. “This kind of unrest could create confusion among international organisations like the IMF and the World Bank,” said political analyst Ranga Kalansooriya. He said while Wickremesinghe was working in the right direction, his administration’s weakness was not implementing a long-term plan to go with its focus on solving day-to-day problems. No end to Sri Lanka energy crisis in sight, as days-long waits for fuel continue Wickremesinghe said on Saturday it was not proper for him to leave without a government in place as there was “a fuel crisis, a food shortage, we have the head of the World Food programme coming here and we have several matters to discuss with the IMF”. “Therefore, if this government leaves there should be another government.” Thousands of protesters entered Colombo on Saturday and swarmed into Rajapaksa’s fortified residence. Crowds of people splashed in the pool and lounged on beds. Some made tea or used the gym. Russia responds to Sri Lanka’s appeal for fuel amid economic crisis Even though both Wickremesinghe and Abeywardena said they had spoken with the president, they did not say anything about his whereabouts. The country is relying on aid from India and other nations as leaders try to negotiate a bailout with the IMF. Wickremesinghe said recently that negotiations with the IMF were complex because Sri Lanka was now a bankrupt state. Sri Lanka announced in April that it was suspending repayment of foreign loans due to a foreign currency shortage. Its total foreign debt amounts to US$51 billion, of which it must repay US$28 billion by the end of 2027. Months of demonstrations have all but dismantled the Rajapaksa political dynasty, which ruled Sri Lanka for most of the past two decades but is accused by protesters of mismanagement and corruption. The president’s older brother resigned as prime minister in May after protests saw him seek safety at a naval base.