Sri Lankan president’s office to reopen after crackdown: Police

Sri Lanka’s besieged presidential office will reopen on Monday,
police said, days after anti-government demonstrators were flushed
out in a military crackdown that triggered international
condemnation, Trend reports citing Al

The colonial-era building was occupied earlier this month by
protesters angered by the island nation’s unprecedented economic

Soldiers rescued then-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa from his
nearby residence before it was overrun by an angry crowd the same
day, with the leader eventually fleeing to Singapore and

Troops armed with batons and automatic weapons cleared the
presidential secretariat shortly after midnight Friday on the
orders of Rajapaksa’s successor, Ranil Wickremesinghe.

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 earlier this year.

“The office is ready for reopening from Monday,” a police
official told AFP on Sunday, adding 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 Wickremesinghe for using violence against unarmed
protesters who had announced their intention to vacate the site
later on Friday.

Police spokesman Nihal Talduwa 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,”
Talduwa said 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 Singapore and resigned after
demonstrators chased him from his palace.

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