The Sri Lankan army has denied allegations that it is planning to crack down on protesters seeking the ouster of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
In a statement on Saturday, he described as “dark” allegations that troops were being trained to attack protesters. The soldiers will only intervene if the police call for help, the army said.
“The soldiers, as everyone has seen in recent days, have not intervened at all in any of these peaceful protesters or organizations, nor have they acted against the interests of the state as disciplined members of an organization that has brought peace to this country with enormous and invaluable sacrifices.” , said the army.
Citizens have been occupying the sea front opposite Rajapaksa’s office for eight days in a row, accusing him and his brother, the prime minister, of mismanagement that led to the island’s worst economic crisis in decades. The protesters have rejected the offers for negotiations and demand the immediate resignation of the Rajapaks.
Rajapaksa – a former military and former defense minister credited with crushing a three-decade civil war – has been provocative. In traditional celebrations last week, he urged “unity and understanding”, while Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa reminded citizens of his family’s role in ending the war in 2009.
Speculation of repression has escalated in recent days as the nation approaches the anniversary of the 2019 Easter bombings, which killed more than 200 people. The Rajapaksas returned to power after the attacks, promising security and stability in a country where the economy had slowed and debt had skyrocketed.
Opposition leaders have refused to cooperate with Rajapaksa until he relinquished some of the powers he held for the presidency through a constitutional amendment in 2020. Lack of political stability could jeopardize talks that could begin in the near future. week for a coveted loan from the International Monetary Fund.
The military in its statement called on the people to “fully trust” the army, as it has done in the past, because today’s serving soldiers remain more trained, professionally trained and fit to take on any security challenge, in this scenario, ONLY if the Police call us to help them “.