Sri Lankans rally against crackdown on protesters

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Hundreds of Sri Lankans on Wednesday rallied against a government crackdown and the use of emergency laws against peaceful protesters demand-ing answers to the country’s worst economic crisis.

Protesters led by religious and trade union lead-ers marched to the Independence Square in Colombo and made several demands to the government in-cluding the withdrawal of emergency laws, an end to the arrests of peaceful protesters, the immediate dissolution of Parliament and relief for those bur-dened by the hardship and shortages of basic sup-plies.

Four months of street protests culminated last month when former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to Singapore and resigned after demonstrators stormed his official home and occupied several key government buildings. His brother Mahinda Raja-paksa resigned as prime minister in May and four other family members had quit as ministers before him.

Protesters accuse the Rajapaksa family of plung-ing the country into the crisis through mismanage-ment and corruption.

The former prime minister, Ranil Wick-remesinghe, was elected by Parliament to complete Rajapaksa’s five-year term until 2024, but many of the protesters are unhappy with him and say he was backed by lawmakers who are still loyal to the Ra-japaksas to protect the former ruling family from being held accountable.

Several groups had initially called a major rally to force Wickremesinghe out of office but a lack of support forced them to hold smaller protests. They called for a temporary government, the dissolution of Parliament and fresh elections.—AP

 

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