Friday, December 2, 2022

Sri Lanka deploys troops to enforce curfew after day of deadly unrest

Sri Lanka deployed hundreds of troops and police Tuesday to enforce a curfew after 5 folks had been killed within the worst violence in weeks of protests over an unprecedented financial disaster.

Practically 200 had been additionally wounded Monday as prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned, however that did little to calm public anger.

He had to be rescued in a pre-dawn operation by the army Tuesday after hundreds of anti-government protesters stormed his official residence in Colombo in a single day, with police firing tear gasoline and warning pictures to maintain again the group.

“After a pre-dawn operation, the previous PM and his household had been evacuated to security by the military,” a high safety official instructed AFP. “At the very least 10 petrol bombs had been thrown into the compound.”

The Rajapaksa clan’s maintain on energy has been shaken by months of blackouts and shortages in Sri Lanka, the worst financial disaster because it turned unbiased in 1948.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stays in workplace, nonetheless,  with widespread powers and command over the safety forces.

Andrew Fidel Fernando reviews on protests in Sri Lanka

Activists wearing masks of Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa take part in a protest in Colombo.
Activists carrying masks of Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa participate in a protest in Colombo. © Ishara S. Kodikara, AFP

After weeks of overwhelmingly peaceable anti-government demonstrations, violence broke out Monday when Mahinda Rajapaksa’s supporters — bussed into the capital from the countryside — attacked protestors with sticks and golf equipment.

“We had been hit, the media had been hit, girls and youngsters had been hit,” one witness instructed AFP, asking not to be named.

Police fired tear gasoline and water cannons to disperse crowds and declared an instantaneous curfew in Colombo, a measure later widened to embody the whole South Asian nation of 22 million people.

Authorities stated the curfew will probably be lifted Wednesday morning, with authorities and personal workplaces, in addition to outlets and faculties, ordered to stay shut on Tuesday.

US Ambassador Julie Chung tweeted that Washington condemned “the violence towards peaceable protestors” and referred to as on the Sri Lankan “authorities to conduct a full investigation, together with the arrest & prosecution of anybody who incited violence”.

Shot lifeless

Regardless of the curfew, anti-government protesters defied police to retaliate towards authorities supporters for the assaults late into Monday evening. 

Outdoors Colombo, ruling get together lawmaker Amarakeerthi Athukorala shot two folks — killing a 27-year-old man — after being surrounded by a mob of anti-government protestors, police stated.

“He then took his personal life together with his revolver,” a police official instructed AFP by phone. 

Athukorala’s bodyguard was additionally discovered lifeless on the scene, police stated.

One other ruling get together politician who was not named opened hearth on protesters, killing two and wounding 5 within the deep south of the island, police added. 

Offended crowds set alight the houses of greater than a dozen pro-Rajapaksa politicians, together with some autos, whereas buses and vans utilized by the federal government loyalists in and round Colombo had been additionally focused.


A number of Rajapaksa houses had been torched in numerous elements of the nation, whereas a household museum of their ancestral village was trashed.

Docs on the primary Colombo Nationwide Hospital intervened to rescue wounded authorities supporters, with troopers breaking open locked gates to ferry within the wounded.

“They could be murderers, however for us they’re sufferers who should be handled first,” a physician shouted at a mob blocking the doorway to the emergency unit.

Unity authorities

Mahinda Rajapaksa, 76, stated he was resigning to pave the best way for a unity authorities.

But it surely was unclear if the opposition would be a part of any unity administration, having earlier than refused to govern with any members of the Rajapaksa household.

Underneath Sri Lanka’s political system, even with a brand new unity authorities, the president may have the ability to appoint and hearth ministers in addition to judges, and revel in immunity from prosecution.

“Except President Rajapaksa steps down, nobody — whether or not the lots within the streets or key political stakeholders — will probably be appeased,” analyst Michael Kugelman from the Wilson Heart instructed AFP.

The protests got here after the coronavirus pandemic hammered the island’s important earnings from tourism and remittances, which starved the nation of international foreign money wanted to repay its debt.

This compelled the federal government to ban many imports, main to extreme shortages, inflation and prolonged energy blackouts.

In April, Sri Lanka introduced it was defaulting on its $51 billion international debt.

It’s unclear what President Rajapaksa’s subsequent transfer will probably be within the face of the protests, in accordance to Akhil Bery of the Asia Society Coverage Institute.

Other than following his brother in resigning, he may appoint a caretaker authorities — earlier than then quitting — deploy the army and police to suppress the protests, or strive to await them to “die down naturally”, Bery instructed AFP.

However no matter occurs, the following authorities may have to take “unpopular selections” to restore the devastated economic system, he stated.

Any bailout from the Worldwide Financial Fund — presently below negotiation — would imply “larger taxes and fewer authorities spending, which is a politically poisonous mixture”, he added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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