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20:53, 28 October 2018

Sri Lanka’s Political Crisis Turns Deadly

Sri Lanka’s Political Crisis Turns Deadly

Sri Lanka&rsquos Political Crisis Turns Deadly

Safety forces outside the Petroleum Ministry following a shooting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday.CreditCreditEranga Jayawardena/Associated Press

By Dharisha Bastians and Jeffrey Gettleman

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka &mdash Sri Lanka&rsquos escalating political crisis turned deadly on Sunday when the bodyguard of a former cabinet minister fired on a crowd, killing at least one individual and wounding two other people, the police stated.

The former petroleum minister, Arjuna Ranatunga, was a member of the cabinet that President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved on Saturday, one day after ousting Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister and swearing in the former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Numerous lawmakers and government ministers have denounced the move as unconstitutional, and mobs have attacked government officials &mdash deepening concerns that this island nation is headed for much more turmoil.

The gunfire broke out when Mr. Ranatunga attempted to enter his workplace at the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corp. and was confronted by a group of workers loyal to the president. The guard opened fire, a police spokesman, Ruwan Gunasekera, said, killing one particular person and injuring two other people, one critically. The guard was arrested.

Sri Lanka only recently emerged from a long and bloody civil war, and the man who was abruptly named the new prime minister, Mr. Rajapaksa, is a former president who waged a vicious counterinsurgency campaign that killed thousands of civilians.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, second from correct, Sri Lanka&rsquos newly appointed prime minster, in Kandy on Sunday.CreditLakruwan Wanniarachchi/Agence France-Presse &mdash Getty Photos

On Sunday night, anxiousness gripped the seaside capital, Colombo. Word swiftly spread of the gunfire at a government ministry, and police trucks prowled the streets

Tensions have been constructing among Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe, and the president broke his silence on Sunday, accusing Mr. Wickremesinghe of getting arrogant, stubborn and inflexible and calling his administration corrupt and fraudulent.

He insisted he had no decision but to appoint Mr. Rajapaksa as prime minister and stated that Mr. Wickremesinghe have to take the blame for the current political crisis. Mr. Sirisena suspended Parliament in an apparent move to give Mr. Rajapaksa time to try to muster enough support to survive any no-self-confidence vote.

In his first statement considering that being sworn in as prime minister, Mr. Rajapaksa mentioned on Sunday that Mr. Sirisena had invited him to accept the position throughout a &ldquomoment of national peril.&rdquo Mr. Rajapaksa, who is not yet particular of a parliamentary majority, urged all political parties to join with each other in the course of &ldquothis really necessary political workout,&rdquo and vowed to hold parliamentary elections soon.

Mr. Rajapaksa is a common and divisive figure, a colorful politician who has cozied up to China and entered into a lot of bargains that backfired. His costliest error was taking billions of dollars in loans from China to create a port at the island&rsquos southern tip that stands practically deserted and now basically belongs to China simply because Sri Lanka can’t repay the debt.

Union workers from the celebration loyal to Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Rajapaksa confronted Mr. Ranatunga as he attempted to enter the government building Sunday night.


Arjuna Ranatunga was dismissed as petroleum minister.CreditLakruwan Wanniarachchi/Agence France-Presse &mdash Getty Pictures

Hundreds of Mr. Wickremesinghe&rsquos supporters, meanwhile, gathered outside the prime minister&rsquos official residence on Sunday for the second consecutive day, waving party flags and denouncing Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Rajapaksa. Buddhist monks performed religious rites to invoke blessings on Mr. Wickremesinghe.

The speaker of Sri Lanka&rsquos Parliament urged the president on Sunday to safeguard Mr. Wickremesinghe&rsquos rights. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya stated in a letter to Mr. Sirisena that any continued suspension of Parliament would have &ldquoserious and undesirable consequences.&rdquo

Constantino Xavier, a fellow at Brookings India, stated that Sri Lanka&rsquos president and prime minister had not been acquiring along and that it was only a matter of time before the coalition government they had formed collapsed.

&ldquoThe ruling collation has been fragmenting persistently,&rdquo Mr. Xavier mentioned. &ldquoThis current government had promised to focus on human rights, justice, accountability and corruption it didn&rsquot provide at all.&rdquo

But handful of expected the president to summarily dismiss the prime minister, which Mr. Xavier said was &ldquoextremely dubious if not illegal.&rdquo

He said the violence could improve, and if demonstrators poured into the streets, &ldquothe security forces will side with the president.&rdquo

Dharisha Bastians reported from Colombo, and Jeffrey Gettleman from New Delhi. Kai Schultz contributed reporting from New Delhi.

Associated Coverage

Sri Lanka&rsquos President Suspends Parliament, Escalating Political Crisis


Sri Lanka Faces Constitutional Crisis as President Unseats Prime Minister


How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port


Published at Sun, 28 Oct 2018 16:58:42 +0000

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