- A Sri Lankan court has banned former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, his politician son Namal and 15 allies from leaving the nation
Amid a dire economic crisis, a Sri Lankan court on Thursday banned former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, his politician son Namal and 15 allies from leaving the nation over acts of violence against anti-government demonstrators.
The magistrate in the capital Colombo also asked police to investigate Monday’s mob attacks on peaceful protesters, which led to retaliatory violence that claimed nine lives and caused widespread destruction.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is set to name a new prime minister today, hoping to assemble a unity government after weeks of anti-government protests triggered by a dire economic crisis turned violent.
In a televised address to the nation yesterday night, Rajapaksa stopped short of yielding to weeks of nationwide protests calling for him to resign over the country’s worst economic downturn since independence.
Many Sri Lankans thronged buses in the main city Colombo on Thursday to return to their hometowns with leaders of political parties due to meet after the PM quit and went into hiding and President Rajapaksa warned of anarchy.
Hundreds of people thronged the main bus station in the commercial capital after authorities lifted an indefinite curfew at 7 a.m. (0130 GMT) on Thursday. The curfew will be reimposed at 2 p.m.
Streets in Colombo were quiet, with some people venturing out to buy essential supplies. Frustration remained at ongoing fuel shortages that have crippled the country’s economy.
“We have hit the bottom economically,” said Nimal Jayantha, an autorickshaw driver queuing for petrol after the curfew was lifted.
“I don’t have the time do my job. By the time I stay in the fuel queue and get petrol, curfew will be imposed. I will have to go home without any money.”
Rajapaksa stepped down after the fighting erupted and is in hiding in a military base in the northeast of the country.
Hit hard by the pandemic, rising oil prices and tax cuts by the populist Rajapaksa government, the island nation is experiencing its worst financial crisis since independence in 1948.
Useable foreign reserves stand as low as $50 million, inflation is rampant, and shortages of fuel, medicine and other essential goods have brought thousands onto the streets in more than a month of anti-government protests, that had remained predominantly peaceful until Monday.
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