Dinesh Gunawardena was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister simply hours after troopers and police cleared an anti-government protest website in Colombo.
Gunawardena, a longtime member of the ruling Well-liked Entrance of Sri Lanka and an ally of the Rajapaksa political household, on Friday took the oath of workplace earlier than President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was appointed head of state by a vote from his position as prime minister in parliament on Wednesday.
The 2 males have been schoolmates and mates since they have been three, however they lead ideologically diametrically opposed events.
Wickremesinghe, 73, is a free market advocate and a pro-Western politician, whereas Gunawardena, 73, is a staunch Sinhala nationalist who believes in socialism and desires better state management of the financial system.
The Sri Lankan navy raided the primary protest camp in Colombo in a single day and arrested a number of protest leaders on the primary day in workplace of President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
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The cupboard is scheduled to be sworn in afterward Friday. Heavy safety was deployed exterior the Prime Minister’s workplace through the swearing-in ceremony.
“[Gunawardena] was a part of the ruling Rajapaska coalition, so not a brand new face in Sri Lankan politics,” stated Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen, reporting from Colombo.
There may be additionally no proof of the president’s promise to usher in new faces and unite the ruling get together with the opposition to create some type of nationwide unity authorities, she added.
The individuals of Sri Lanka have been taking to the streets for months demanding their resignation over an financial disaster that has left the island nation’s 22 million individuals with out primary requirements corresponding to medication, meals and gasoline.
The protests compelled former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa final week. His household has dominated Sri Lanka for many of the previous 20 years, however public outrage over the financial disaster compelled a number of members of the family to resign ministerial posts earlier within the disaster.
protest website cleared
Gunawardena’s appointment got here a number of hours after safety forces made a number of arrests and cleared a protest camp close to the presidential palace in Colombo, the place protesters had been gathering for the previous 104 days.
Sri Lankan safety forces demolished the primary anti-government website and displaced activists in an evening assault that sparked worldwide concern.
Troops armed with batons and armed with automated assault rifles rushed at protesters blockading the President’s Secretariat.
Lots of of troopers and commandos from the Police Particular Activity Pressure eliminated protesters’ barricades in entrance of the seafront constructing, whereas the final remaining protesters on the location – some nonetheless on the steps – have been evicted.
Within the morning, troops armed with automated assault rifles surrounded the complicated and the primary roads resulting in the world remained cordoned off.
Police spokesman Nihal Thalduwa stated the choice to deploy greater than 1,000 troopers and police in a single day to clear the protest camp was made to permit the President’s workplace to renew work.
“Police and safety forces acted to clear protesters who occupied the presidential secretariat, the primary gate and the encompassing space,” police stated in a press release.
It added that 9 individuals have been arrested, together with two injured.
The Sri Lanka Bar Affiliation, the nation’s predominant physique of attorneys, stated at the least two attorneys have been assaulted as they went to the protest website to supply their recommendation. In a press release on Friday, she referred to as for an finish to “unjustified and disproportionate motion” by the armed forces in opposition to civilians.
Lots of of activists demonstrated at a close-by designated protest website in opposition to the authorities’ actions, calling on Wickremesinghe to resign and dissolve parliament to permit new elections.
Harindra Fonseka, an activist, informed Al Jazeera the compelled removing of protesters was an act of “state-sponsored terrorism.”
“We’re baffled by this determination as a result of we now have clearly communicated to the related authorities that we are going to be eradicating our presence from this area,” he stated.
“Sadly, they’ve had this disproportionate quantity of violence — state-sponsored terrorism, one would say, or the continuing oppression of the individuals of this nation. We see that the nation’s political elites are attempting to maintain the institution alive they usually have this facade that they need to do one thing for this nation [and] for residents, however that isn’t the case,” he added.
Father Jeevantha Peiris informed Al Jazeera that protesters have been attacked in the midst of the night time.
“Immediately at midnight, with the protesters asleep and never figuring out something, they [security forces] got here they usually attacked, tortured media staff…they’d no thought what was occurring,” the social activist stated.
“A few of us, the protesters, have been merciless [assaulted] with iron bars, he added, however harassed that they “is not going to hand over”.
“This protest motion could be very nicely organised, with multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-political ideologies… [We’ll by no means cease right here, we’ll proceed.”
‘Pal of the individuals’
Wickremesinghe had warned protesters that occupying state buildings was unlawful and that they’d be evicted until they left on their very own.
“In case you attempt to topple the federal government, occupy the president’s workplace and the prime minister’s workplace, that isn’t democracy, it’s in opposition to the legislation,” he stated.
The brand new president has additionally declared a state of emergency that offers sweeping powers to armed forces and permits police to arrest and detain suspects for lengthy intervals with out being charged.
Protesters have accused Wickremesinghe of being a proxy of the previous president’s highly effective household – a cost he has denied.
“I’m not a good friend of the Rajapaksas,” he informed reporters on the Gangaramaya temple. “I’m a good friend of the individuals.”