Sri Lanka Highlights: Sri Lankan security forces Friday raided a protest camp occupying government grounds in Colombo and cleared out a section of it, a sign that the country’s new president Ranil Wickremesinghe was cracking down a day after his swearing-in. “A joint operation involving the military, police and police special forces was launched in the early hours to recover the presidential secretariat from the protesters as they have no legal right to hold it,” police spokesperson Nalin Thalduwa told Reuters.
Nine people were arrested and over 50 injured in the melee that followed. Dozens of troops in riot gear marched through the protest site and cleared tents that stood on both sides of the main road that passes in front of the president’s secretariat. Media footage from the site showed soldiers armed with assault rifles trying to tear down the camp as dozens of police watched on. Hospital sources said two were hospitalised. Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa termed it a “useless display of ego” while UK and British envoys expressed concern.
Protesters had feared a crackdown was imminent under new the new president and prime minister who was seen as an ally of his ousted predecessor, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Wickremesinghe, who took oath on Thursday, is slated to appoint his new cabinet on Friday.