Sri Lanka president’s office to reopen after crackdown

Troops armed with batons and automatic weapons cleared the presidential secretariat shortly after midnight Friday on the orders of Rajapaksa’s successor, Ranil Wickremesinghe.

At least 48 people were wounded and nine arrested in the operation, during which security forces tore down tents set up by protesters outside the complex earlier this year.

“The office is ready for reopening from Monday,” a police official told AFP on Sunday, adding that forensics experts had visited the office to gather evidence of damage by protesters.

The siege of the secretariat, which lasted since May 9, has now been lifted.”

Western governments, the United Nations and human rights groups have condemned Wickremesinghe for using violence against unarmed protesters who had announced their intention to vacate the site later on Friday.

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

“They can remain at the official protest site. The government may even open a few more places for demonstrators in the city,” Talduwa said Sunday.

“An investigation was launched to figure out why the broadcast was interrupted,” a top defence official told AFP.

Sri Lanka’s police chief and top military brass stood behind the new president as the oath was administered.

Official sources said he was expected to shortly form a cabinet not exceeding 30 ministers to steer the country out of its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from Britain.