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Police fire tear gas as Sri Lanka protesters defy curfew

Protesters rally in Kandy and Colombo despite a curfew, demanding that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resign as the economic crisis worsens.

Sri Lankan opposition leader Sajith Premadasa, along with other opposition lawmakers
Sri Lankan opposition leader Sajith Premadasa, left, joins other opposition legislators shouting anti-government slogans during a protest in Colombo, Sri

Colombo, Sri Lanka – Police in Sri Lanka have fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse student-led protests near the country’s second-biggest city, Kandy, amid growing calls for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation over an economic crisis that has resulted in shortages of fuel, food and other essentials.

Hundreds of students defied a curfew to take part in Sunday’s protest, chanting “Go home, Gota”, referring to the president’s nickname, as they walked out of the University of Peradeniya and headed to the centre of Kandy.

But police stopped them soon after they left the university premises.

“The people have lost faith in the Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government,” said one student, who wished to remain anonymous over security concerns. “We dispersed because we don’t want any violence and because a lot of female students were with us. But we will be back and then it won’t be so easy to disperse us.”

The Peradeniya rally was the latest display of dissent against Rajapaksa, who declared a state of emergency on Friday and imposed a 36-hour curfew that began at 6pm (12:30 GMT) on Saturday to quell unrest over the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

The curfew is to run until 6am (00:30 GMT) on Monday.

But just within the first 12 hours of the curfew, some 664 people had been detained for violating the measure, and despite the crackdown in Peradeniya, scattered protests were reported across the country throughout the day, including in the capital, Colombo.

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