Srilanka: Anti-government protesters in Sri Lanka said on Thursday that they were abandoning their takeover of government facilities, but they pledged to continue their campaign to unseat the president and prime minister despite a terrible economic crisis.
At the weekend, protesters overran the presidential palace, prompting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee to the Maldives on Wednesday, when they also occupied Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office.The prime minister, whom Rajapaksa designated as acting president during his absence, had called for the evacuation of government structures and given security personnel the order to take “whatever steps are necessary to restore order.”
A prominent Buddhist monk who supported the campaign had earlier demanded that the more than 200-year-old presidential palace be returned to authorities in order to protect its priceless artwork and artefacts.
Monk Omalpe Sobitha told reporters, “This building is a national asset and it should be safeguarded.” “A proper audit must be conducted, and the property must be returned to the state.”Since Rajapaksa withdrew and his security guards backed down, the property has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Thousands of protesters surrounded Wickremesinghe’s office in Colombo, and he gave a broadcast speech in which he said: “Those who go to my office want to stop me from discharging my responsibilities as acting president.
Fascists cannot be allowed to seize power. I imposed a curfew and a national emergency because of this, he continued.
The curfew was lifted at daybreak on Thursday, but police said that nighttime skirmishes with protestors outside the national parliament left a soldier and a policeman hurt.