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Protesters converge at Sri Lankan capital, demand political change

Tens of thousands of protesters, backed by Buddhist monks, arrived in Sri Lanka’s capital on Saturday to demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the government due to their failure to resolve economic hardships, police said.

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Tens of thousands of protesters, backed by Buddhist monks, arrived in Sri Lanka’s capital on Saturday to demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the government due to their failure to resolve economic hardships, police said.

The crowds gathered close to the president’s official residence in Colombo, with ever more people streaming into the city.

Security and army forces have been deployed around the president’s residence.

Heavy iron barricades have been erected in surrounding areas.

The government declared an indefinite curfew on Friday, but lifted it early on Saturday amid protests from lawyers, civil rights groups and Buddhist monks.

“The objective of the curfew was to prevent persons coming for the protest, but they have been forced to lift it due to pressure from the public,” student union leader Wasantha Mudalige told dpa.

Police spokesperson Nihal Thalduwa said that the police will not interrupt any peaceful protest, but would be forced to take action if violence erupts.

The protests come in the wake of an unprecedented economic crisis that has resulted in a shortage of fuel, gas, medicines and food.

Sri Lanka lacks dollars for purchases.

Long queues continue outside fuel stations, where only limited fuel stocks are available.

The president’s office said on Friday that measures were being taken to restore supplies of fuel, gas and medicines.

Sri Lanka has also appealed to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package. (dpa/NAN)

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