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Sri Lankan protesters take to streets, defy curfew amid economic crisis

Protesters in Sri Lanka defied a curfew and took to the streets Sunday in opposition of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the country faces shortages of essential supplies and high inflation. Photo  by Chamila Karunarthne/EPA-EFE
Protesters in Sri Lanka defied a curfew and took to the streets Sunday in opposition of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the country faces shortages of essential supplies and high inflation. Photo  by Chamila Karunarthne/EPA-EFE

April 3 (UPI) -- Protesters defied a curfew and took to the streets of Sri Lanka on Sunday in continued calls for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign amid an economic crisis.

More than 100 people joined as opposition politicians marched toward the home of opposition leader, Sajith Premadasa, as troops armed with rifles stood at checkpoints in the capital of Colombo, The New York Times reported.

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Demonstrators in the suburb of Rajagiriya held signs that read "Enough is enough" and "Go home, Gota" as they protested quietly in hopes to avoid drawing the attention of security forces.

Protesters have called for Rajapska to resign as the country faces power outages as long as 13 hours and shortages of basic supplies such as food, gas and medicine after running out of foreign currency to pay for imported goods.

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Rajapaksa declared a 36-hour state of emergency on Saturday in response to the protests which saw nearly 50 people injured and 45 arrested as police responded with teargas and water cannon's as a crowd gathered at Rajapaksa's home on Friday.

The government also shut down access to social media, causing a rift between the president and Namal Rajapska, a cabinet minister and nephew of the president, who used a virtual private network or VPN to say write on Twitter that the ban was "completely useless."

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A Sri Lankan government official on Sunday denied reports that Rajapksa and other members of the government planned to step down as early as Sunday.

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"The rumors to the effect that the prime minister is going to resign have no basis to it," Information Department Director-General Mohan Smaranayake told Bloomberg.

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