Sri Lanka extends curfew in Colombo district until Friday morning

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says following situation 'very closely'.

Sri Lanka extends curfew in Colombo district until Friday morning

Sri Lanka has re-imposed a curfew in the Colombo district until Friday morning, as the people in the island nation awaited the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled to the Maldives on Wednesday in the wake of a worsening economic crisis, according to officials.

Sri Lanka Police spokesman Nihal Thalduwa told Anadolu Agency that the situation was calm in the country as of Thursday morning and a curfew has been imposed in the Colombo district.

A notification issued by Sri Lanka's Department of Information said the curfew will remain in place from noon on Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday morning local time.

Thalduwa also confirmed that one person died during the Wednesday clashes between the security forces and protesters.

On Wednesday, clashes erupted near the parliament building, with several injured from both sides, according to the local media.

Rajapaksa, who fled the country, appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to "exercise, perform & discharge the powers, duties & functions of the Office of President with effect from July 13, 2022."

Rajapaksa had fled to the Maldives and is currently on his way to Singapore, according to local media.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday said he continues to follow the situation in Sri Lanka very closely. "It is important that the root causes of the conflict and protestors’ grievances are addressed. I urge all party leaders to embrace the spirit of compromise for a peaceful and democratic transition," he said on Twitter.

On Thursday, local journalists said protesters have decided to withdraw from government buildings they had occupied and hand them over back to the authorities.

"Protesters decided to hand over government buildings they occupied, including President’s House, Presidential Secretariat, and Prime Minister’s Office, aiming to restore peace," Dinesh De Alwis, a journalist, told Anadolu Agency.

He also said "confusion" prevails among the people, but "may gradually reduce as the president is flying to Singapore, they are hoping announcement there."

Amid mass protests in the wake of a worsening economic crisis, Sri Lanka's Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said on Saturday that the president would resign on July 13, while the president is yet to submit his resignation.

The development came after thousands of protesters stormed the presidential palace in Colombo and also set fire to the prime minister's home.

Protesters have blamed Rajapaksa's political dynasty for the crisis. Mahinda Rajapaksa, a brother of the president, resigned as the prime minister in May.

Crippled by a shortage of foreign exchange after the collapse of its tourism-dependent economy, the island nation of 22 million people has defaulted on all of its foreign debt.

It has been unable to pay for fuel and other essentials, resulting in anti-government protests. A lack of fuel to run power stations has in turn led to daily power cuts. Schools have been shut and state employees have been asked to work from home.

The government is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package.

Months of protests have demanded the resignation of the president, as his government has been blamed for the chronic mismanagement of Sri Lanka's finances.

Hüseyin Demir

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