‘We don’t fear the government’: Sri Lankan protesters continue fight for comprehensive system change – News

The protest began on April 9, continued uninterrupted



By PTI

Published: Sun 17 Jul 2022, 11:12

Sri Lankan protesters have vowed to continue their fight for comprehensive system change by abolishing the presidency, as the popular uprising that toppled Gotabaya Rajapaksa as president marked the 100th day on Sunday.

The anti-government protest began on April 9 near the presidential office and continues uninterrupted.

“We will continue our fight until we have achieved our goal of complete system change,” said Father Jeewantha Peiris, one of the movement’s leading activists.

“This is a fight for freedom. We have succeeded in sending an authoritarian president home through people power,” Peiris said.

Rajapaksa, 73, who fled to the Maldives on Wednesday and then landed in Singapore on Thursday, formally resigned on Friday, capping a chaotic 72 hours in the crisis-ridden country that has seen protesters storm many iconic buildings, including the President and Prime Minister. Ministers’ residences here.

Interim President Wickremesinghe appears to be their next target for protesters and the campaign to overthrow him has already begun.

“On July 5, we published an action plan. The most important thing was to eliminate Gotabaya and defeat Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Rajapaksa regime,” he said.

“We are pushing for the abolition of the presidency to make it a real achievement of our plan of action,” he said.

“We are not afraid of the government,” chanted the demonstrators in chorus.

After occupying the three most important administrative buildings in the capital, the demonstrators evacuated three other than the presidential office.

The demonstration had seen violence since the beginning of mid-April.

Some elements with extremist political agendas have been accused of arson against the personal property of Sri Lankan leaders.

Wickremesinghe’s private home suffered an arson attack the same day Rajapaksa fled the country.

He is one of four candidates running to succeed Rajapaksa in the vote in parliament scheduled for July 20.

Wickremesinghe, who is also prime minister, pledged on Friday to maintain law and order after being sworn in as Sri Lanka’s interim president.

He said the armed forces have been given the powers and freedom to deal with any act of violence and sabotage.

“I support peaceful protests one hundred percent. There is a difference between rioters and protesters,” he said.

Wickremesinghe said genuine protesters would not resort to violence.

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