9 Jul 2022

Crisis-Hit Sri Lanka Increases Protest Time After Retreat

Tragedy-ridden Sri Lanka has canceled a repatriation law on Saturday that had already been rejected by thousands of people overnight, ahead of a rally scheduled for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's resignation.
Crowds of people have already flocked to the capital Colombo to protest, the latest talk of the crisis caused by the unprecedented economic crisis.

Police withdrew a stay-at-home order from the previous night after opposition groups, rights activists and the bar association threatened to sue the police chief.

Thousands of anti-government protesters did not ignore the curfew and even forced train officials to use trains to take them to Colombo for Saturday's meeting, officials said.

"The time to get home was not a hindrance, we were actually encouraging more people to take to the streets with contempt," a security official told AFP.

"The passengers had trains to Colombo."

Sri Lanka has been plagued by food shortages and gasoline for months, long-term depletion and inflation after the depletion of foreign exchange reserves.

The country had almost run out of gas, but protesters, backed by large opposition groups, had rented private buses to travel to the capital.

Protesters camped outside Rajapaksa's seafront office demanding his resignation due to the government's negligence.

Thousands of armed soldiers were deployed in Colombo on Friday to tighten security forces at Rajapaksa's official residence, which protesters vowed to attack on Saturday.

Authorities have deployed about 20,000 troops and police in a security operation to protect the president.

On Friday, three judges rejected police requests to legalize Saturday's protests.

The United Nations has called on authorities and protesters to ensure that Saturday's protests are peaceful.

"We urge the Sri Lankan authorities to exercise restraint in police operations at rallies and to ensure that every effort is made to prevent violence," the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

Nine people were killed and hundreds more injured in clashes across the country after Rajapaksa supporters attacked protesters outside the presidency in May.

Sri Lanka has failed to pay its $ 51 billion foreign debt and has been in talks to rescue the International Monetary Fund.

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