Tens of thousands of supporters of sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe blocked roads in Sri Lanka’s capital on Tuesday, stepping up a showdown with the country’s newly appointed leader – a former strongman accused of grave rights abuses.
Wickremesinghe left his official residence for the first time since Friday to condemn President Maithripala Sirisena for dismissing him and appointing Mahinda Rajapakse, a former president accused of human rights violations and corruption.
Wickremesinghe’s party said about 100,000 people fl ooded the streets, while police sources estimated 25,000 even as scores of buses brought more demonstrators to the biggest rally since the constitutional crisis erupted. The army of followers chanted “Down With the Rogue PM” as they targeted Rajapakse, who Sirisena has brought back into frontline politics as his prime minister.
Effigies of Sirisena were torn up in a symbolic protest against the president, who has faced international calls to end a suspension of parliament so it can hold a vote on the rival prime ministers. “We are against the sacking, the people did not vote for Sirisena to act in this manner,” Wickremesinghe told supporters from a makeshift stage. “We will resist what the president has done.” Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has warned that the crisis could lead to a “bloodbath” on the streets if the assembly does not hold a vote. (AFP)