Sri Lankan military raids protest site as new President takes over
| Updated: Friday, July 22, 2022, 8:39 [IST]
Colombo, July 22: Sri Lankan security forces on Friday raided a camp set up by anti-government protesters in the capital Colombo, a day after Ranil Wickremesinghe took oath as new President.
The new president an ally of ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and six-time prime minister is seen as part of the political establishment that has caused Sri Lanka's political problems.Sri Lanka troops break up protesters' camp as new President takes over.PTI Photo
Anti-government protesters returned to Colombo on Wednesday after Parliament voted in six-time Prime Minister Wickremesinghe as the country's new president.
They refused to accept Wickremesinghe, 73, as the new president, holding him partly responsible for the country's unprecedented economic and political crisis. Police and special task force personnel forced them out on Friday when less than 100 of them were present.
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The protesters had vacated the President and Prime Minister's residences and the Prime Minister's office earlier after capturing them on July 9, they were still occupying some rooms of the President's secretariat at the Galle Face.
The protesters, who had been at the Secretariat's gate since April 9 when they started their anti-government protest which resulted in Rajapaksa's resignation as president last week, posted on social media on Thursday that they were planning to end their protest by 2 pm on Friday.
"There was a debate that we should respect the Constitution and stop this protest," said a spokesman of the group. However, the main protest group which blocked entry to the President's Office since April 9, said they would continue their struggle till Wickremesinghe resigned.
"Our victory would come only when we are able to form the people's Assembly," Lahiru Weerasekera, a group spokesman said. Wickremesinghe, who was sworn in as the eighth President of Sri Lanka on Thursday, said last night that the occupation of government buildings was illegal, warning that legal action would be taken against their occupiers.
The new president said he would extend support to the peaceful protesters but would be tough on those who try to promote violence under the guise of peaceful protests.