President leaves Maldives – reports

  • Sri Lankans are waiting for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a day after he fled to the Maldives to escape a popular uprising against an economic crisis blamed on his government’s mismanagement.
  • Rajapaksa is reportedly flying to Singapore on a Saudi airplane, although his final destination is unclear.

    Army says empowered to use force to protect property and lives

    Sri Lanka’s army has said it is empowered to use force to protect “public property, key installations, vulnerable points and human lives”.

    In statement, the army condemned violence by “a certain section of the protesters” during clashes at parliament on Wednesday night, adding that two assault rifles were taken from security forces during the confrontation.

    The army added that “a dozen” Army personnel were injured. Police have said one person was killed and 84 were injured in clashes near the parliament and the prime minister’s office on Wednesday.

    Speaker expects president’s resignation ‘before the end of Thursday’: Officials

    President Rajapaksa’s letter of resignation is expected to be delivered before the end of the day Thursday, say officials at speaker’s office.

    The president is reported to be on his way to Singapore from Maldives. The official at parliament speaker Abeywardene’s office said they were not informed of president’s final destination.

    “It is expected, though, that the president will send in his resignation once he reaches final destination.”

    UK advises against Sri Lanka travel

    The United Kingdom has advised against “all but essential travel” to Sri Lanka, typically a prime tourist destination, citing the “current situation.

    Security forces reinforce parliament

    Security forces have been deployed to reinforce Sri Lanka’s parliament, which was the site of clashes with protesters on Wednesday night.

    The move comes after acting president Wickremesinghe ordered a curfew in the capital until early on Friday morning.

    Protest leaders have condemned any violence by protesters. They have begun to leave occupied government buildings, but said demonstrations would continue.

    Senior civil servant warns of ‘calamitous consequences’ if no solution found

    Austin Fernando, a retired senior civil servant, has warned of calamitous consequences if no immediate solution found to the current Sir Lankan political crisis.

    Fernando, who served as the secretary to former President Maithripala Sirisena, told Al Jazeera that the government, the opposition and the protest movement, known as the “aragalaya”, should be flexible in their stances and come to a compromise.

    “I think we are at a very contentious stage,” he said, “therefore, it is of paramount importance that all three parties come to a compromise to create a legal mechanism to come out of this stalemate.”

    “One might say the ‘aragalaya’ may not be the total public brand of Sri Lanka, but it is the brand of the frustrated youth and many educated youth with a good political knowledge are part of the ‘aragalaya’,” Mr Fernando added. “So it is important that their demands are also listened to.”

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