Tensions remain high in Colombo on Sunday, October 28 following the removal from office of Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe by President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday, October 26, after the president's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) party withdrew from the current coalition government. According to local sources, ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe has refused to vacate his official residence, demanding that the Parliament convene for an emergency session. According to local sources, over a thousand supporters of Wickramasinghe rallied in front of his residence on Sunday.
Also on Sunday, the bodyguards of Sri Lanka's ousted Petroleum Minister opened fire on a group of protesters blocking the politician from entering his office at the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation in Colombo. According to reports, two other demonstrators suffered gunshot injuries. Local police have reportedly arrested one of the bodyguards and have launched an investigation into the shooting. Further demonstrations are possible in the coming hours and days, particularly in Colombo. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
On Saturday, October 27, French and British diplomatic authorities issued travel alerts for Sri Lanka, advising travelers in the country to exercise vigilance and to avoid all demonstrations.
Wickramasinghe has been replaced by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Members of the outgoing government have denounced the decision, claiming that it is unconstitutional and undemocratic and that the president does not have the power to remove the prime minister. As of Friday evening (local time) it is unclear if Wickramasinghe remains in office.
In recent months President Sirisena has attempted to reduce the powers of Wickramasinghe by limiting his control over the central bank, the policy-making National Operations Room, and several other institutions. A no-confidence vote supported by Rajapaksa was unsuccessful in April 2018, causing tensions to rise between the UPFA and Wickramasinghe's United National Party (UNP).
Individuals present in Sri Lanka are advised to keep abreast of the domestic political climate and to avoid all protests due to the risk of violence.
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