Sunday, June 26, 2022

Sri Lanka Police fire tear gas shells at students in fresh clash

Police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of students trying to storm the Sri Lankan president’s residence on Sunday as the government offered olive branches to protesters demanding his resignation.

Anti-riot squads used water cannons followed by tear gas as furious protesters pulled up yellow iron barricades on the road leading to the official residence of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Colombo.

Nearby, thousands of men and women demonstrated outside Rajapaksa’s beach office for the 51st day, demanding that he withdraw from the country’s worst economic crisis since independence.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on national television on Sunday evening offered to explain to young protesters how the country is administered.

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“The youth are calling for a change in the current system,” Wickremesinghe said, planning 15 committees to work with parliament to decide national policies.

“I propose to appoint four youth representatives to each of the 15 committees,” he said, adding that they could be drawn from the existing protesters.

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The demonstrations led to tense scenes in Colombo, where authorities struggled to disperse large crowds and chemical irritants lined the streets.

Several people were seen releasing tear gas, picking up canisters and throwing them back at the police, who opened fire.

Women medical and science students joined the protest, with many running for cover when officials fired water cannons.

Wickremesinghe is not from Rajapaksa’s party, but was given the position after the president’s elder brother Mahinda resigned as prime minister on 9 May, and when no other legislators agreed to step in.

Wickremesinghe is the only parliamentary representative of the United National Party, once a powerful political force that was nearly wiped out in Sri Lanka’s previous elections.

Rajapaksa’s party, which has a majority in the legislature, has offered him the support he needs to run the government.

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Sunday’s student crackdown came a day after similar clashes when protesters tried to storm Rajapaksa’s heavily guarded colonial-era official residence where thousands of people surrounded his private home on March 31.

The unprecedented shortage of foreign exchange to import most essential supplies, including food, fuel and medicines, has caused severe hardships to the country’s 22 million people.

The government had last month sought immediate financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund. speaking terms.

The country has defaulted on its foreign debt of $ 51 billion.

Its currency has depreciated 44.2 per cent against the US dollar this year, while inflation hit a record 33.8 per cent last month.

Read more:

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Nation World News Desk
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