Sri Lanka's political crisis continues as residents are forced to queue overnight for gas

ITV News Correspondent Peter Smith reports on the ongoing protests over Sri Lanka's worsening economic crisis

Sri Lanka's leaders are struggling to settle on a new prime minister as the country's economic situation worsens and protesters remain inside the presidential palace.

Both President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have agreed to resign.

The president has not been seen in public since Friday and his whereabouts are unclear. The main opposition party has nominated its leader, Sajith Premadasa, the son of an assassinated president, for the post.

However, he lacks public support amid a widespread suspicion of politicians in general.

ITV News Correspondent Peter Smith, who is in Colombo, said that desperate Sri Lankan people have taken over government buildings and forced Rajapaksa into hiding.

Queues of people stretched throughout the roads of the capital overnight on Tuesday as a rare delivery of gas reached the country.

The political impasse is prolonging the country's economic crisis because an aid agreement from the International Monetary Fund is likely to be delayed until a new government is in place.

Many have been without income for months as the country has experienced severe shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

Along with queues for gas in the capital, many waited patiently to gain access to the president's office to show their support to anti-government protesters, who have vowed to continue occupying the presidential palace until both leaders have left office.

Peter Smith said people were forming orderly queues, with ice cream on sale and entire families now visiting the official buildings.

People queue up to enter the official residence of president Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Tuesday Credit: AP

He added the "army are still outside holding guns but nobody is scared anymore".

Mr Wickremesinghe will serve as president for seven days between Mr Rajapaksa’s expected resignation on Wednesday and the election of a new president a week later on July 20.

With both men in hiding, their fate when they leave office is unclear.

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AFP reported that Mr Rajapaksa, 73, tried to flee to Dubai shortly before angry protesters stormed his home but airport officials refused to stamp his passport.

His brother Basil, the former finance minister who resigned in April as street protests surged against shortages of fuel and food, was blocked from leaving the country early on Tuesday, according to reports.

It was not clear where Basil, who holds US citizenship, was trying to go.

Corruption and mismanagement have left the island nation laden with debt, unable to pay for imports of food, fuel, medicine and other necessities.

Sri Lanka announced in April it was suspending repayment of foreign loans due to a foreign currency shortage.

Once elected, the new president will serve the remainder of Mr Rajapaksa’s term, which ends in 2024.