The clashes left nine dead in two days and nearly three hundred injured. The head of state ordered the security forces to fire live ammunition on Wednesday while promising to reduce his broad powers.
Armored vehicles and armed soldiers now patrol the streets of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. A curfew is in effect across the island of 22 million people. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa clings to power, hoping to subdue by force the anger that has submerged the country for months and which has taken a very violent turn in recent days. The head of state, whose population demands the departure, ordered Wednesday, May 11, the security forces to fire live ammunition to avoid “anarchy”.
Two days earlier, his brother Mahinda had been forced out of his prime minister’s chair, as protesters attempted to invade his official residence. The resigning head of government and his family had to be exfiltrated by the military. They were taken to a shelter in a naval base in Trincomalee, on the northeast coast of the country. The government was dissolved.
The peaceful protests that have punctuated life on the island for two months have turned into violent clashes after supporters of the Rajapaksa clan armed with sticks and truncheons staged a punitive action against opponents of the regime installed in front of the president’s palace, held responsible for an economic and financial crisis of unprecedented magnitude.
These incidents triggered an insurrectionary movement. Protesters attacked many buildings and properties of the Rajapaksa clan or majority MPs; buses and vehicles were destroyed. The island plunged into chaos. The clashes left nine dead in two days and nearly three hundred injured; 104 buildings and 60 vehicles were set on fire.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa addressed the nation on Wednesday evening. In a televised speech, the president announced that he would relinquish most of his prerogatives, promised to appoint a new prime minister, give more power to parliament, and abolish the presidential system and its all-powerful executive.
“I am taking steps to appoint a new prime minister within the week who has the confidence of the majority of parliament, who can gain the confidence of the people, and a new government to control the current situation, to prevent the country from falling into the doldrums. anarchy and to continue stalled government functions, Gotabaya Rajapaksa said. I will leave room for the new Prime Minister to present a new work program and implement it. »