The presidential palace ready to reopen in Sri Lanka

Presidential Palace set to reopen in Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka's presidential palace will reopen on Monday, police said, days after the brutal dismantling of an encampment of anti-government protesters by military and law enforcement officials sparked the concern of the international community. 

The presidential palace “is ready to reopen on Monday”, a police official told AFP on Sunday, under cover of anonymity, as not being authorized to speak to the media.

Experts went to the scene to collect evidence of the damage caused by the demonstrators, he added.

Hundreds of soldiers and police armed with automatic assault rifles and batons brutally dismantled a camp of anti-government protesters at dawn on Friday on the orders of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who had just been sworn in.

At least 48 people were injured and nine arrested.

Western governments, the United Nations and human rights groups have condemned Ranil Wickremesinghe for using violence against unarmed protesters who announced their intention to leave the site later in the day on Friday. /p>

The building was partially overrun by thousands of protesters almost two weeks ago, precipitating the downfall of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The leader, rescued from his nearby residence by the army, fled to Singapore from where he submitted his resignation.

Police spokesman Nihal Talduwa said on Sunday that protesters were free to continue their demonstrations at a designated site near the presidential office.

The military operation to dismantle the protesters' encampment took place less than 24 hours after Mr. Wickremesinghe's inauguration and just before the appointment of a new cabinet.

Elected for the remaining term of Mr. Rajapaksa's term, which ends in November 2024, Mr. Wickremesinghe inherits a country ravaged by an economic crisis, short of foreign currency, marked by long blackouts, shortages of food, electricity, fuel and medicine for months.

His bankrupt government has defaulted on its $51 billion foreign debt, and is currently in bailout talks with the Monetary Fund international.

The crisis shows no signs of abating, but the government announced on Sunday that it would reopen schools, which had been closed for most of the month.

The ministry of Education said pupils and teachers will only be asked to return to school three days a week as transport is still hampered by a national fuel shortage.

Lines of waiting of several kilometers to refuel were observed in all t the country on Sunday, despite the introduction of a rationing system.