Rajapaksa ally appointed prime minister in Sri Lanka as protest site cleared: NPR


On Friday, army soldiers arrive to remove protesters and their tents from the site of a protest camp outside the presidential secretariat in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Rafiq Maqbool/AP


hide caption

toggle caption

Rafiq Maqbool/AP

Rajapaksa ally appointed prime minister in Sri Lanka as protest site cleared: NPR

On Friday, army soldiers arrive to remove protesters and their tents from the site of a protest camp outside the presidential secretariat in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Rafiq Maqbool/AP

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – An ally of the Rajapaksa political family was named Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on Friday, hours after security forces cleared the main protest site occupied for months by angry anti-Rajapaksa protesters in cause of the country’s economic collapse.

New President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was elected by lawmakers and sworn in earlier this week, has named schoolmate Dinesh Gunawardena to succeed him. Gunawardena is 73 years old and belongs to a large political family.

Sri Lankans have taken to the streets for months to demand the resignation of their leaders due to an economic crisis that has left the island nation’s 22 million people short of essentials like medicine, food and fuel.

Protests ousted former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last week. His family has ruled Sri Lanka for most of the past two decades, but public outrage over the economic crisis has forced several family members from their ministerial posts earlier in the crisis.

Gunawardena’s appointment came hours after security forces made several arrests and cleared a protest camp near the presidential palace in the capital, Colombo, where protesters have gathered for the past 104 days. Army and police personnel arrived in trucks and buses around midnight, removing tents and blocking roads leading to the site. The nighttime raid took place even though protesters had announced they would voluntarily leave the site on Friday.

Security forces witnessed the beatings of at least two journalists. At least two lawyers were also assaulted when they came to the site of the protest to offer advice, said the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, the country’s main lawyers’ body. He also said that a lawyer and several journalists had been arrested.

The lawyers’ association called for an end to “unjustified and disproportionate actions” by the armed forces targeting civilians. He called on Wickremesinghe to ensure that he and his government respect the rule of law and the rights of citizens.

“The use of the armed forces to suppress civil protests from the first day in office of the new president is despicable and will have serious consequences for the social, economic and political stability of our country,” the association said in its statement.

On Monday, when he was then interim president, Wickremesinghe declared a state of emergency which gave him broad authority to act in the interest of public safety and order. Authorities have broad powers to search premises and detain people, and Wickremesinghe can change or suspend any law.

On Friday, he issued a state of emergency notice calling on the armed forces to maintain law and order across the country. The emergency must be reviewed regularly by Parliament to decide whether to extend it or let it expire.

Wickremesinghe, also 73, has extensive experience in diplomatic and international affairs and oversaw bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund. He said on Monday those talks were close to a conclusion and that talks on aid from other countries had also progressed. He also said the government had taken steps to address fuel and cooking gas shortages.


npr

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button