The office of Sri Lanka president will reopen after a recent crackdown.
COLOMBO: After days of protests against the government and a military crackdown that drew international condemnation, authorities in Sri Lanka have announced that the besieged presidential office will reopen on Monday.
Sri Lanka President Office:
As a direct response to the huge public discontentment caused by the island’s devastating economic crisis, protesters earlier this month stormed and occupied the structure that was built during the colonial era.
On the same day, soldiers were called upon to rescue then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa from his neighboring residence; days later, Rajapaksa resigned after fleeing to Singapore after being forced out of office.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, who took over as president after Mahinda Rajapaksa, gave the order for troops armed with batons and automatic weapons to empty the 92-year-old presidential secretariat on Friday morning before sunrise.
The demonstrators had been camping out in front of the facility since April, during which time at least 48 people were hurt and nine were detained. The security staff tore down the tents that the protesters had built up.
On Sunday, a law enforcement officer who wished to maintain his anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media stated that the office will be prepared to reopen on Monday.
The siege of the secretariat, which began on May 9 and ended today, is over.
After receiving reports of damage to the Presidential Secretariat, the police have requested the assistance of forensic experts in order to investigate the situation and gather evidence.
Wickremesinghe has been condemned for using violence against demonstrators who were not armed and who had already stated their intention to leave the area later on Friday. Human rights organizations, the United Nations, and Western nations have all condemned Wickremesinghe for his actions in this regard.
Wickremesinghe provided justification for the action by stating that he had explained to ambassadors based in Colombo on Friday that it was unacceptable to block access to government facilities. The protests near the president’s office can continue, according to police spokeswoman Nihal Talduwa.
Keep them at the designated protest area. Talduwa stated on Sunday that the authorities may open a few additional areas for demonstrations in the city.
Less than 24 hours after Wickremesinghe inauguration, and just before a new government was constituted, the military conducted an operation to evacuate the secretariat building and its immediate surrounds.
During the past few months, Sri Lanka’s population of 22 million people has been impacted negatively by a number of issues, including protracted power outages, record inflation, and food and fuel shortages.
Following a default on its $51 billion in foreign debt, the government has declared bankruptcy and is currently in discussions with the International Monetary Fund over a possible bailout.
The administration said on Sunday that it will reopen schools that had been shuttered for the better part of a month, despite the fact that the economic crisis that spurred the protest movement shows little sign that it is getting better. The schools had been closed because of the protest campaign.