Sri Lanka President Calls in Army Ahead of Protester’s Funeral
(Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa ordered a three-day military deployment ahead of the funeral of a protester killed earlier this week when police fired at crowds angry over the country’s worsening food and fuel shortages and rising living costs.
Soldiers have been deployed in and around the central Rambukkana area where police opened fire Tuesday night after tear gas failed to dispel protesters who had blocked a train track and tried to set fire to a diesel truck, Sri Lanka’s information department said in a statement.
Soldiers will be present in Rambukkana and neighboring regions until Saturday “to maintain order in the area” and assist the local police, the statement said. The funeral is expected to be held Friday.
Sri Lanka is in the midst of its worst economic crisis in decades that has brought angry citizens to the streets demanding the ouster of the Rajapaksa family. The government is now seeking as much as $4 billion in emergency aid this year to help the island nation ease hourslong power cuts, shorten fuel lines that go on for miles, and pay for imports of lifesaving drugs and food.
While the Rajapaksas have resisted calls to step down, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa -- the president’s brother -- has said the government would support moves to trim presidential powers in an apparent olive branch to protesters. However, he hasn’t elaborated on the details of the constitutional changes he proposes, and it’s not clear if this will placate the angry citizens and the opposition.
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