Sri Lanka opposition protest targets Pettah

ECONOMYNEXT – Opposition activists loyal to former president Mahinda Rajapaksa were congregating at the Pettah Bo tree to march later in the evening to the nearby Lake House Roundabout for an overnight vigil, party officials said.

The Joint Opposition rally spearheaded by Rajapaksa’s legislator son Namal hopes to bring 200,000 supporters to Colombo in what they promise will be a show of force greater than their May Day demonstration at Galle Face.

Namal Rajapaksa said his father will join the rally at the Bo tree later in the day. Party workers said they will later march up to the Lake House roundabout  passing the Fort railway station, a popular demonstration venue for smaller groups of protesters.

There were no reports of skirmishes although the authorities had deployed thousands of police in and around the capital to ensure there was no breach of the peace.

Police had moved several courts on Tuesday to get restraining orders, but in all cases the magistrates said no special orders were necessary as police had powers to deal with anyone disrupting the life of the community.

Several opposition activists said they were told about plans to stay overnight in Colombo and keep up a night vigil to capture prime time television coverage on Wednesday. They will bus in more people on Thursday morning to continue the protest into Thursday.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said Namal Rajapaksa would try to create trouble to ensure violence that would tarnish the image of the government.

“People have a right to protest and we respect that right,” Samaraweera said. “They are desperate to try and get someone killed during the protest.” (COLOMBO, Sept 5, 2018)

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