Sri Lanka crisis: It's all Go-Ranil push now 

Named acting Prez after Gotabaya flees to Maldives, Lankan PM faces fury of protesters

Published: 14th July 2022 08:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th July 2022 08:28 AM   |  A+A-

Protesters use an iron barricade to break open the gate of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office before storming it, in Colombo on Wednesday (Photo| AP)

Protesters use an iron barricade to break open the gate of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office before storming it, in Colombo on Wednesday (Photo| AP)

Express News Service

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan political crisis deepened further with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fleeing to Maldives but failing to keep his word on resigning on Wednesday, notifying Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s appointment as acting president, and the latter declaring a state of Emergency and clamping curfew across the nation till 5 am on Thursday.

Angry protesters launched a massive protest in front of the Prime Minister’s Office here, which was met with tear gas, water cannons, and baton charging, resulting in over 30 people being hospitalised. Protesters eventually stormed into the Prime Minister’s Office, the fourth government building they came to occupy this week, and demanded Wickremesinghe’s immediate resignation.

Later in the day, an emergency all-party meeting convened by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena asked Ranil to immediately step down and pave the way for an all-party interim government headed by a new president from July 20. Wickremesinghe sought to act tough, mobilising the armed forces and the police to bring the protests under control.

His declaration of Emergency came in for quick questioning as the invoking of such powers is vested only in the executive president. Wickremesinghe’s decisions were considered outside the scope of prime ministerial powers. The appointment of Wickremesinghe as acting president was announced by the Speaker. This failed to quell the angry protests with people condemning Wickremesinghe as an authoritarian leader who unleashed violence on unarmed protesters to secure his political position.

In an afternoon address, Wickremesighe condemned the “fascist actions” of unruly mobs not inclined to honour the agreement made on July 9 to form an all-party interim government and to have a new president elected through a parliamentary vote on July 20.

Protesting groups also stormed into the premises of two national broadcasters, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and the Independent Television Network, and ordered the broadcast of protests alone till they are conclude. Gotabaya is to fly to Singapore. His failure to resign despite his self-set deadline of July 13 fuelled protests.

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