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Sri Lanka Crisis Highlights: Security forces raid protest camp as new president, PM takes office

Sri Lanka Crisis Highlights: Police stormed the Galle Face protest site in Colombo and arrested nine people. At least 50 people were reportedly injured after they were beaten by se

By: Express Web Desk
Colombo | Updated: July 23, 2022 8:11:37 am
Army soldiers stand guard after removing protesters and their tents from the site of a protest camp outside the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 22, 2022. (AP)

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.

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Sri Lanka crisis Highlights: Ranil Wickremesinghe sworn-in; Troops raid anti-government protest camp in Colombo.

08:03 (IST)23 Jul 2022
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21:06 (IST)22 Jul 2022
In Pictures| Sri Lankan forces raiding protest camp

16:14 (IST)22 Jul 2022
Sri Lanka police arrest nine people after raid at protest camp

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

13:48 (IST)22 Jul 2022
'The very first day he used the armed forces': Angry protesters march against pre-dawn raid

Angry at the pre-dawn raids, hundreds of protesters marched from the city's main railway station towards the Galle Face protest site, where they were held back by military and riot police manning barricades.

"The very first day he used the armed forces - this is the face of Ranil Wickremesinghe," said Rajeevkanth Rajkumar, CEO of a construction company and one of the protesters. "We don't want any more innocent people to be injured. But we will go to that place (the protest site) at any cost." (Reuters)

12:29 (IST)22 Jul 2022
Sri Lanka president expected to keep finance portfolio, says source

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to keep the finance portfolio and could also appoint a junior minister to help him out with the department's work, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Friday. (Reuters)

12:09 (IST)22 Jul 2022
Protesters march to Fort Railway station

A group of protesters have gathered outside Colombo's Fort Railway station to protest against the early morning raid of Galle Face protest site in the Sri Lankan Capital, reports Daily Mirror.

11:47 (IST)22 Jul 2022
A quick nap

Protesters sleep before being removed from the site of a protest camp inside the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo, Sri Lanka on July 22, 2022. Photo via Associated Press.

11:10 (IST)22 Jul 2022
Gravely concerned by the use of force to disperse protestors, says envoy

Gravely concerned by the use of force to disperse protestors, says UN Sri Lanka's Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer-Hamdy on the clearing of Galle Face protest site. 

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11:05 (IST)22 Jul 2022
Dinesh Gunawardena sworn in as Sri Lanka's new PM

Dinesh Gunawardena took the oath as Sri Lanka's new prime minister on Friday, local television channels reported.

Gunawardena's appointment comes a day after six-time prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the country's new president. (Reuters)

10:47 (IST)22 Jul 2022
Opinion | Awaiting Sri Lanka’s Narasimha Rao

Ranil Wickremesinghe has been elected Sri Lanka’s new president, replacing Gotabaya Rajapaksa who fled the country and resigned in the aftermath of the public anger over the country’s economic crisis.

During his election campaign in 2019, Gotabaya talked about vistas of prosperity and repeatedly said that Sri Lanka’s per capita income will rise to $ 6,500 by 2025. This did not materialise. Instead, the Sri Lankan economy, which was at the cusp of upper-middle-class income status, (above $ 4,000) regressed, the country’s GDP growth entered negative territory and per capita incomes declined. The economy is likely to contract by -4 per cent to -6 per cent in 2022 and per capita income in the year will fall below that of 2019. There are also 7,50,000 “new poor” — a result of the hit taken by the country due to the pandemic and economic mismanagement under the Rajapaksa administration. There is a serious risk of further backsliding if policy reforms aren’t undertaken immediately by the new administration. (Read more)

10:22 (IST)22 Jul 2022
Gunawardena Lanka's new PM

Dinesh Gunawardena takes oath as new prime minister. (Reuters)

09:53 (IST)22 Jul 2022
'Useless display of ego': Sajith Premadasa responds to raid

Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa reacted to the early morning raid of a major protest site in Colombo and termed it a "useless display of ego."

08:53 (IST)22 Jul 2022
US urges restraint by authorities

The US and British diplomats also expressed concern.  

"We urge restraint by authorities and immediate access to medical attention for those injured," US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Julie Chung, said on Twitter. (Reuters)

08:40 (IST)22 Jul 2022
Bar association slams crackdown on protesters

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka said the crackdown could destabilise the country, which is in need of foreign aid and a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

"The use of the armed forces to suppress civilian protests on the very first day in office of the new president is despicable and will have serious consequences on our country's social, economic and political stability," the collective of lawyers said in a statement. (Reuters)

08:20 (IST)22 Jul 2022
Top UN official in Sri Lanka calls for inclusive consultations to resolve economic crisis

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”. (PTI)

07:44 (IST)22 Jul 2022
Watch: Gota Go Gama protest camp's IT centre dismantled

Security troops early on Friday dismantled the Gota Go Gama IT Centre in Colombo city. 

07:25 (IST)22 Jul 2022
Police, military to recover secretariat from protesters

Sri Lankan police say military, police have launched an operation to recover Presidential Secretariat from protesters as "they have no legal right to hold it". (Reuters)

07:19 (IST)22 Jul 2022
Sri Lankan forces raid anti-government protest camp

Sri Lankan security forces raided an anti-government protest camp in the commercial capital Colombo early on Friday, two protest organisers said, a sign that the country's new president was cracking down a day after his swearing-in.

Media footage from the site showed soldiers armed with assault rifles trying to tear down the camp as dozens of police watched on.

As daylight broke, dozens of troops in riot gear marched through the area and rows of protest tents that stood on both sides of the main road that passes in front of the president's secretariat completely cleared out. (Reuters)

22:14 (IST)21 Jul 2022
Sri Lanka's economic collapse needs immediate global attention: UN experts

Sri Lanka's economic collapse needs immediate global attention, not just from humanitarian agencies, but also from international financial institutions and other countries who must come to the bankrupt country's aid, according to UN human rights experts. The independent UN experts on Wednesday expressed alarm over record high inflation, rising commodity prices, power shortages, crippling fuel crisis and the economic collapse in Sri Lanka, at a time when the country grapples with unprecedented political turmoil.

The experts noted that this crisis has had a serious impact on the enjoyment of human rights for the entire population. “Sri Lanka's economic collapse needs immediate global attention, not just from humanitarian agencies, but from international financial institutions, private lenders and other countries who must come to the country's aid,” the experts said.

UN independent expert on foreign debt and human rights Attiya Waris said that time and again, “we have seen the grave systemic repercussions a debt crisis has had on countries, exposing deep structural gaps of the global financial system, and affecting the implementation of human rights.”  (PTI/Yoshita Singh)

19:56 (IST)21 Jul 2022
Sri Lanka's new President Wickremesinghe to swear in Cabinet on Friday

Sri Lanka's new President Ranil Wickremesinghe will swear in his Cabinet on Friday comprising previous members who already held positions when he became the acting President after the resignation of his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The previous Cabinet will function till a national government is agreed upon once Parliament convenes and then a Cabinet reshuffle will take place.

A view inside the Sri Lankan parliament. ( SL State media)

Wickremesinghe, 73, who was on Thursday sworn in as the country's eighth president after he won a parliamentary ballot, has called for bipartisanship to address the unprecedented economic crisis the country is facing. Officials said Wickremesinghe would try to appoint an all-party government.

Wickremesinghe, a six-time former prime minister, was elected by lawmakers on Wednesday, in a rare move that could provide continuity for crucial discussions with the IMF for a bailout deal for the cash-strapped nation. (PTI)

Sri Lankan forces make arrests, clear main protest site

Sri Lankan security forces arrested several people by early Friday and cleared the main camp protesters have occupied for more than three months while demanding the nation's leaders resign over an unprecedented economic collapse.

sri lanka, sri lanka flag A Sri Lankan flag is waved by a protester demanding elected president Ranil Wickremesinghe step down in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 20, 2022. (AP)

Army and police personnel arrived in trucks and buses around midnight, removing tents and protest banners at the site near the presidential palace in the capital, Colombo, where demonstrators have gathered for the past 104 days. They blocked off roads leading to the site and carried long poles. The security forces were witnessed beating up at least two journalists.

Why new Sri Lanka needs a Tamil leader

No calls to a “neutral umpire”. No politicians making grand promises. No religious leaders spreading communal hatred. Just people. Or better still, peoples — Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindus. Students, their parents and grandparents, professionals – teachers, nurses, lawyers, bankers, doctors, computer engineers.

People wait in a queue with empty cylinders to buy domestic gas at a distribution center, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 12, 2022. (AP/PTI)

From April 9 to July 9, as an economic crisis brought about by a dollar shortage suddenly manifested in crippling shortages of food, fuel and medicines, Sri Lankans of all hues congregated at Colombo’s Galle Face oceanfront, with only one demand: “Gota Go Home”. They had no leaders but they were well-organised. Fastidiously, they cleaned up the protest site every morning and evening, as if to convey the cleaning up of Sri Lanka itself. Out of the plastic waste, they created artwork on the promenade.

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First published on: 20-07-2022 at 07:54:11 am
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