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Street battles in Colombo after Gotabaya flees in dead of evening

Hours after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka within the dead of evening, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe moved to quell surging anti-government protests which have thrown the nation into turmoil by appointing a brand new committee, comprising the Chief of Defence Staff, Tri-forces Commanders and Inspector General of Police, to regulate the scenario.

Made Acting President by Gotabaya in his “absence”, Wickremesinghe stated the committee has additionally been instructed to make sure the safety and security of residents in the course of the protests.

He declared a nationwide curfew till Thursday morning to stop additional unrest after protesters, on studying that Gotabaya had fled, turned their ire on him and stormed the Prime Minister’s Office. In an announcement, Wickremesinghe stated the protesters had no cause to storm his workplace. “They want to stop the parliamentary process. But we must respect the Constitution,” he stated.

Earlier, native media stated a youth died after police used tear gasoline to disperse a big group of protesters who had gathered close to the PMO. By late night, the protesters had taken management of the PMO premises on Flower Road in Colombo.

In the afternoon, public broadcaster Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation needed to droop transmission as a gaggle of protesters entered the premises and reportedly demanded that solely information associated to “anti-government protests” and leisure programmes be broadcast. The protesters acquired 15 minutes to talk on to viewers after which the channel suspended transmission. Rupavahini resumed broadcasting later.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Air Force stated it had supplied an plane for President Gotabaya to depart for the Maldives following approval from the Ministry of Defence. According to Lanka media, Rajapaksa, 73, his spouse Ioma and a bodyguard have been amongst 4 passengers on board an An-32 plane that took off from the primary worldwide airport.

After arriving within the Maldives, Gotabaya was anticipated to move subsequent to Singapore, the Reuters information company stated, citing a authorities supply.

Earlier within the day, a gaggle of protestors, principally younger women and men, moved from the President’s Secretariat in the direction of the PMO, barely just a few kilometres away. The Indian Express witnessed many protesters chanting slogans of “Go Ranil, go home” on the streets, some waving Sri Lankan flags.

One of them, Gehan Melroy, 30, who has “studied mechanical engineering and is working on nano-electronics”, stated: “Both the leaders have to go. We can’t trust them, we need new leaders, new system.”

Melroy, together with different volunteers, handed out pamphlets titled “Freedom of the struggle”, which stated that Wickremesinghe and the Rajapaksa regime “must/should resign with immediate effect”.

“Subsequent to the resignation of the Gota-Ranil Government, an interim Governance which subscribes to the economic, social and political aims and aspirations of the ‘peoples struggle / Janatha Aragalaya’ should be established. A People’s Council which has legal standing, through which representatives of the ‘Janatha Aragalaya’ will be able to effectively engage and mediate with the Interim Governance should be established,” the pamphlet stated.

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Wickremesinghe was appointed Prime Minister in May, following the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa, the elder brother of Gotabaya and a former President.

Late Wednesday night, when The Indian Express visited the PMO, teams of individuals milled round on the lawns with safety personnel trying on. The lawns have been muddy, with rubbish piled up. Dressed principally in denims and T-shirts, younger protesters have been seen strolling out and in of the Prime Minister’s Office with out checks.

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