Sri Lanka deploys troops in capital after anti-government protest violence

Sri Lankan authorities deployed armored vehicles and troops in the streets of the capital, Colombo, on Wednesday, May 11, two days after a pro-government mob attacked peaceful protesters.

The army was ordered to shoot people suspected of participating in the violence that has left eight dead and more than 225 injured, according to police, on this island of 22 million people since Monday.

A bus catches fire during protests against the government in Sri Lanka, in Colombo, May 11, 2022.

After a fire, late on Tuesday evening, at a luxury hotel belonging to a member of the Rajapaksa clan in the south of the country, police in several places fired in the air to disperse the crowd that burned vehicles.

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Protesters demand the president’s resignation

The island’s residents are suffering from severe shortages of food, fuel and medicine and power cuts, and peaceful protests have been calling for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for weeks.

A Sri Lankan scrap collector looks for recyclable items near buses that were burned during clashes between government supporters and anti-government protesters, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, May 11, 2022.

Government supporters, who were sent from the provinces to the capital on Monday and spurred on by his brother, outgoing Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, set fire to gunpowder by attacking the protesters.

The 76-year-old Rajapaksa clan leader resigned from his post on Monday after the bloody clashes that followed. Just before dawn on Tuesday, the army had to evict him from his besieged official residence in Colombo.

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This resignation “Important event, people are really happy with it”Cochalia Fernando, actress and human rights activist said. But “It’s not enough”She insisted, adding: “We want the entire Rajapaksa clan to leave. They are very corrupt.”And “They nibbled Sri Lanka like a caterpillar nibbling on a fruit or a leaf.”.

Curfew extended for 24 hours

The curfew, which was imposed shortly after the clashes began, was due to be lifted on Wednesday morning but has been extended for twenty-four hours. Demonstrators defied him on Wednesday to keep their camps in front of the president’s office.

During a protest near the president's office in Colombo on May 10, 2022.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who remains in office and enjoys broad powers and command of the security forces, called on Wednesday Twitter “All Sri Lankans must unite to overcome economic, social and political challenges.”

But the main opposition party, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), confirmed on Wednesday that it would not participate in a government under its authority. Violence is provocation [par les autorités] for the establishment of a military regime.Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa denounced the day Twitterclaiming it “Right Wing Country” he is Protected by the constitution, not by weapons..

Pope Francis on Wednesday called on Sri Lankan authorities and rioters to do so “Maintaining peaceful behavior without giving in to violence” full respect ” human rights “ And Civil liberties.

Echoing calls from the United Nations and the European Union, the United States has expressed concern about the escalation of violence and the deployment of the military. “Peaceful demonstrators may never be subjected to violence or intimidation, whether by military or civilian units.”On Tuesday, Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department in Washington, was summoned to the press.

Sri Lanka, which has defaulted on its external debt estimated at $51 billion since April 12, is in talks with the International Monetary Fund over a possible rescue plan. “We are closely following developments in Sri Lanka and are concerned about the escalation of social tensions and violence.”Masahiro Nozaki, head of the IMF mission in Sri Lanka, said in a statement.

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The world with AFP

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