Sri Lanka crisis: Authorities lift curfew, Rajapaksa yet to resign

Authorities had to impose a curfew in the Western province following the eruption of violence.

PTIUpdated: Thursday, July 14, 2022, 10:43 AM IST
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Sri Lanka crisis: Authorities lift curfew, Rajapaksa yet to resign | (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP

Sri Lankan authorities on Thursday lifted the curfew, which was imposed in the Western province after the eruption of violence in Colombo, even as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has fled to the Maldives, was yet to submit his resignation letter.

Authorities had to impose a curfew in the Western province following the eruption of violence.

Rajapaksa, the 73-year-old leader who had promised to resign on Wednesday, appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the acting President hours after he fled the country, escalating the political crisis and triggering a fresh wave of protests.

At least 84 people were hospitalised when protesters clashed with the security forces at the prime minister's office and at the main access junction to Parliament since mid-afternoon on Wednesday after Rajapaksa fled the country.

The police fired tear gas and water cannons at the mob who were trying to break barriers and enter the restricted zone.

The police spokesperson Nihal Thalduwa said protestors grabbed a firearm and 60 bullets from a Sri Lankan army soldier. A police complaint has been lodged.

Protestors demand Wickremesinghe resign

The protest intensified on July 13, Wednesday, and the demonstartors demanded Wickremesinghe resign. This came after he was appointed as acting president.

Opposition party leaders also asked him to step down so Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena can take control as acting president.

Ranil Wickremesinghe asked the Speaker to find a suitable nominee to become the prime minister in an all-party interim government. However, the protesters have demanded that the interim government must only consist of politicians acceptable to them.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa yet to resign

Meanwhile, President Rajapaksa failed to send in his resignation on Wednesday as pledged earlier. Rajapaksa announced that he will step down on Wednesday after the demonstrators had stormed his official residence on Saturday blaming him for the unprecedented economic crisis.

He was likely to send his resignation letter only after reaching his final destination on Wednesday evening, Sri Lanka's The Morning news portal reported.

He enjoys immunity from prosecution while he is president and fled the country before resigning to avoid the possibility of arrest by the new government.

The media cited sources in the Maldives as saying that Rajapaksa had failed to board the Singapore-bound flight from Male due to security concerns on Wednesday night.

Rajapaksa reportedly had raised security concerns about taking a civilian flight and was urging the Maldives authorities for a private jet to land in Singapore.

Protestors continue to occupy administrative buildings

The protesters continued to occupy the key administrative buildings they had seized since Saturday. There is an endless stream of sight-seers at the buildings. Videos show the properties have suffered serious damages since they were occupied.

The protesters stressed that they would only hand over the properties to authorities after an interim government would be in place.

Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials.

Last week, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka is now a bankrupt country.

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