Thursday, February 9, 2023


Thursday, February 9, 2023

Presidential Secretariat to reopen after crackdown

Sri Lanka’s besieged Presidential Office will reopen today (25), Police said, days after Anti-Government demonstrators were flushed out in a military crackdown that triggered international condemnation.

Widespread public anger over the island’s unprecedented economic crisis saw protesters storm and occupy the colonial-era building earlier this month.

Soldiers were forced to rescue then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa from his nearby residence on the same day, with the leader fleeing to Singapore and resigning days later.

Troops armed with batons and automatic weapons cleared the 92-year-old Presidential Secretariat in a pre-dawn raid on Friday (22) on the orders of Rajapaksa’s successor, Ranil Wickremesinghe.

At least 48 people were wounded and nine arrested in the operation, during which security forces tore down tents set up by protesters outside the complex since April.

“The Office is ready for reopening from Monday,” said a Police Official on Sunday (24), who declined to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

“The siege of the Secretariat, which lasted since May 9, has now been lifted.”

Police said forensic experts had been called in to check damage to the Presidential Secretariat and gather evidence.

Western Governments, the United Nations, and human rights groups have condemned Wickremesinghe for using violence against unarmed protesters who had announced their intention to vacate the site later on Friday.

Wickremesinghe defended the crackdown and said he had told Colombo-based diplomats on Friday that blocking Government buildings was unacceptable.

Police Spokesperson Nihal Talduwa said protesters were free to continue their demonstrations at a designated site near the Presidential Office.

“They can remain at the official protest site. The Government may even open a few more places for demonstrators in the city,” Talduwa said on Sunday.

Courtesy: Channel NewsAsia

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