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Protest movement in Sri Lanka reaches 100 days

#Protest #movement #Sri #Lanka #reaches #days

Sri Lanka’s protest movement reached its 100th day on Sunday after ousting a president and now targeting his successor amid the country’s economic crisis.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled his palace just before protesters marched in last weekend and resigned from the presidency on Thursday.

His mismanagement has been blamed for Sri Lanka’s financial crisis, which has left the 22 million people suffering from food, fuel and medicine shortages since late last year.

Organized primarily through posts on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok, the campaign to overthrow Rajapaksa drew people from Sri Lanka’s often irreconcilable ethnic divides.

United by economic hardship, minorities of Tamils ​​and Muslims joined the majority Sinhalese in demanding the overthrow of the once powerful Rajapaksa clan.

It began as a two-day protest on April 9 when tens of thousands of people camped outside Rajapaksa’s office – a crowd so much larger than organizers had expected that they decided to stay.

“When I heard the news and saw what was happening here, I decided that I should come and help them,” Nilu, a teacher from a beach town on Sri Lanka’s southern coast, told AFP.

The 26-year-old took up residence at the camp last month and is among dozens of volunteers working in the tents that now line a section of Strand Boulevard.

A communal kitchen serves food to needy crowds who visit the site in the evenings and queue beside signs detailing the numerous allegations of bribery and violence against Rajapaksa’s family.

“We need a change and we are the change,” said Nilu, who declined to give her last name.

“We want our president to represent the whole country. Not someone who robs the public.”

Under the Sri Lankan Constitution, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was automatically installed as Acting President upon Rajapaksa’s resignation.

He is now the front runner, permanently succeeding him in a parliamentary vote next week.

But the veteran politician is despised by the protesters as an ally of the Rajapaksa clan – four brothers who have dominated island politics for years.

– ‘Far from any change’ –

Social media activist and protest campaign supporter Prasad Welikumbura said Wickremesinghe should also go.

“100 days have passed since launch,” Welikumbura said on Twitter.

“But it is still a long way from a concrete change in the system. #GoHomeRanil, #NotMyPresident.”

Rajapaksa’s older brother Mahinda resigned as prime minister in May and he appointed Wickremesinghe as his successor – his sixth term in office – despite being an opposition MP representing a party with only one seat in parliament.

The move did little to calm the protesters’ anger, and when they stormed Rajapaksa’s heavily guarded 200-year-old presidential palace, they also set fire to Wickremesinghe’s private home.

Now the Rajapaksas SLPP party, which has more than 100 MPs in the 225-seat parliament, is backing Wickremesinghe in Wednesday’s upcoming vote.

A spokesman for the protesters told AFP: “We are now discussing with groups involved in the ‘Aragalaya’ (struggle) to turn the campaign against Ranil Wickremesinghe.”

The number of protests at the protest site has declined since Rajapaksa’s departure, and protesters have cleared three key state buildings they were occupying – the Presidential Palace, the Prime Minister’s official Temple Trees residence and his office.

Wickremesinghe has ordered the military and police to do whatever is necessary to restore order.

Defense officials said additional troops and police will be deployed to the capital on Monday to strengthen security around parliament ahead of the vote.

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#Protest #movement #Sri #Lanka #reaches #days

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