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Several ruling party leaders arrested in Sri Lanka for alleged role in violence; New PM seeks to placate protestors

"There is direct evidence against the two MPs and that is why they were arrested," the official said. This is the first significant action by new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who relies on the support of the SLPP, in pacifying the demands of protestors.

May 18, 2022
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Several ruling party leaders arrested in Sri Lanka for alleged role in violence (Photo: Youtube)

Sri Lankan police have arrested several leaders, including two members of parliament, associated with the country’s ruling SLPP party, in connection with their alleged role in instigating attacks against peaceful protestors on 8 May that later sparked widespread unrest in the island country, leaving nine people dead and over 200 injured.

Two lawmakers, Sanath Nishantha and Milan Jayathilake, and mayor Saman Fernando, were among over a dozen leaders from the SLPP, a party led by the now-disgraced Rajapaksa family, detained or arrested by police.

Officials Wednesday confirmed their arrest after the attorney general recommended against them.

"There is direct evidence against the two MPs and that is why they were arrested," the official said. This is the first significant action by new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who relies on the support of the SLPP, in pacifying the demands of protestors.

On 8 May, several leaders SLPP leaders attacked anti-government protestors in many parts of the capital Colombo, sparking a chain of violent events which engulfed the country for the next two days. The incident later forced Mahinda Rajapaksa, the brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to resign.

Last week, the passports of almost 22 leaders, including former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his son Namal Rajapaksa, also a former cabinet minister, were impounded after a local court’s order, barring them from leaving the country, citing their alleged role in the instigating violence.

Following the attacks on anti-government protestors, houses of over two dozen MPs, including former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, were torched and damaged, as incidents of arson, looting, and vandalism spread across several districts of the crisis-hit country.

  (SAM)

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