Presidential Secretariat to reopen on Monday?
Posted on July 24th, 2022

Courtesy Adaderana

Sri Lanka’s besieged presidential office will reopen on Monday (Jul 25), police said, days after anti-government demonstrators were flushed out in a military crackdown that triggered international condemnation.

Widespread public anger over the island’s unprecedented economic crisis saw protesters storm and occupy the colonial-era building earlier this month.

Soldiers were forced to rescue then-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa from his nearby residence on the same day, with the leader fleeing to Singapore and resigning days later.

Troops armed with batons and automatic weapons cleared the 92-year-old presidential secretariat in a pre-dawn raid on Friday.

At least 48 people were wounded and nine arrested in the operation, during which security forces tore down tents set up by protesters outside the complex since April.

The office is ready for reopening from Monday,” said a police official on Sunday, who declined to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

He told AFP that forensics experts had visited the office to gather evidence of damage by protesters.

The siege of the secretariat, which lasted since May 9, has now been lifted.”

Western governments, the United Nations and human rights groups have condemned Presidnet Ranil Wickremesinghe for using violence against unarmed protesters who had announced their intention to vacate the site later on Friday.

Police spokesman Nihal Thalduwa said protesters were free to continue their demonstrations at a designated site near the presidential office.

They can remain at the official protest site. The government may even open a few more places for demonstrators in the city,” Thalduwa said on Sunday.

The military operation to clear the secretariat building and its immediate surroundings came less than 24 hours after Wickremesinghe was sworn in and just before a new Cabinet was appointed.

Wickremesinghe was elected by legislators on Wednesday to replace Rajapaksa, who fled to neighbouring Maldives in a military plane and then travelled to Singapore from where he sent his resignation.

Source: AFP


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