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As Ranil, Dinesh Occupy Power, Will They ‘Save Nation’? Roads to Galle Face Blocked Amid Crackdown on Protests


Wickremesinghe, 73, was on Thursday sworn in as the country’s eighth president after Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country and then resigned as president. He has called for bipartisanship to address the unprecedented economic crisis the country is facing.

Sri Lankan security forces on Friday removed a group of anti-government protesters, which continued to occupy the President’s Secretariat here despite Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation as president, after veteran politician Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the country’s new head of state. Anti-government protesters returned to Colombo on Wednesday after Parliament voted in six-time Prime Minister Wickremesinghe as the country’s new president.

The protestors refused to accept Wickremesinghe, 73, as the new president, holding him partly responsible for the country’s unprecedented economic and political crisis. Police and special task force personnel forced them out on Friday when less than 100 of them were present. The protesters had vacated the President and Prime Minister’s residences and the Prime Minister’s office earlier after capturing them on July 9, they were still occupying some rooms of the President’s secretariat at the Galle Face.

The top UN official in Sri Lanka has called on all stakeholders in the country to engage in broad and inclusive consultations to resolve the current economic crisis and the grievances of the people, according to a senior official representing the UN chief. Deputy Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Farhan Haq, said at the daily news briefing here on Thursday that UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, “acknowledged the constitutional transfer of power to a new President.”

US Ambassador to Colombo Julie Chun on Friday expressed concern over actions taken by Sri Lankan authorities at the protest site in the middle of the night. “Deeply concerned about actions taken against protestors at Galle Face in the middle of the night. We urge restraint by authorities & immediate access to medical attention for those injured,” she said in a tweet.

Sri Lanka police on Friday arrested nine people after troops raided a protest camp, Reuters quoted a police spokesperson as saying.

Hundreds of security personnel surrounded the “Gota Go Gama” protest camp, mockingly named after the former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, past midnight and then took apart a section of it, the two organisers said. At least 50 protesters were injured, Reuters quoted organisers as saying. The injured also reportedly included some journalists who were beaten by security forces.

“Very concerned about reports from the Galle Face protest site,” Sarah Hulton, the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, said in a tweet. Tents of protestors being dismantled by the armed security personnel amid a late-night clampdown outside the premises of the Sri Lankan Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.

Armed soldiers were deployed in a bid to control the protestors, who’ve been protesting against the new Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, outside the premises of the Sri Lankan Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.

Heavy deployment of armed soldiers outside the premises of the Sri Lankan Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.

Wickremesinghe, who was sworn in as the eighth President of Sri Lanka on Thursday, said last night that the occupation of government buildings was illegal, warning that legal action would be taken against their occupiers. The new president said he would extend support to the peaceful protesters but would be tough on those who try to promote violence under the guise of peaceful protests.

The main protest group which blocked entry to the President’s Office since April 9, said they would continue their struggle till Wickremesinghe resigned. Our victory would come only when we are able to form the people’s Assembly,” Lahiru Weerasekera, a group spokesman said.

The protesters, who had been at the Secretariat’s gate since April 9 when they started their anti-government protest which resulted in Rajapaksa’s resignation as president last week, posted on social media on Thursday that they were planning to end their protest by 2 pm on Friday. There was a debate that we should respect the Constitution and stop this protest,” said a spokesman of the group.

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