Curfew in Sri Lanka capital after rivals clash, 20 injured

Police carry an injured man during a clash between government supporters and demonstrators in Colombo on May 9, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

COLOMBO (AFP, BLOOMBERG) - Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa offered to make “any sacrifice” needed even as police imposed an indefinite curfew in Sri Lanka's capital on Monday (May 9) after government supporters clashed with demonstrators demanding the resignation of Prime Minister and President.

At least 20 people were injured, officials said.

Police fired tear gas and water cannon on the government supporters who breached police lines to smash tents and other structures set up by anti-government protesters.

Local television on Monday showed groups setting fire to tents set up by demonstrators outside the prime minister’s official residence in Colombo. Similar scenes played out in front of the city’s waterfront promenade where for weeks citizens have lined up peacefully to demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Police could be seen using water cannons to disperse the crowds and douse the flames.

Soaring prices of everything from gasoline to essential medicines have kept protests on the boil in Sri Lanka, which is close to bankruptcy and has suspended payments on foreign debt.

The economic crisis has morphed into a political one as opposition and protesters demand the Rajapaksas’ ouster and for the country’s constitution be amended to roll back the sweeping executive powers of the presidency.

A central bank press conference scheduled for Monday afternoon was also canceled after a curfew was imposed in Colombo.

Local media reported over the weekend that Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa has asked his brother during a special cabinet meeting on Friday to consider stepping down as prime minister to make way for an interim government. 

The prime minister told supporters on Monday that he was ready to make “any sacrifice” needed for the country, without specifying his next move.

Late Friday, the president declared a state of emergency, which gives him sweeping powers to suspend laws, detain people and seize property

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