Sri Lankan Army vows to safeguard Constitution not to interfere with peaceful anti-govt protests

Colomb: The Sri Lankan Army on Saturday said they would thoroughly uphold the Constitution and not resort to violence amidst the anti-government protests across the island nation against the worst economic crisis.
Referring to the social media speculation that the military may be used by the government to launch a crackdown on the week-long protest near the presidential secretariat, the Sri Lankan Army, in a statement, said it would not resort to violence to quell the anti-government demonstrations.
“Troops, as everyone witnessed in the past few days, have not at all interfered with any of those peaceful protesters or organisations, nor have they acted against the interests of the State as disciplined members of an organisation which brought peace to this country through immense and invaluable sacrifices,” according to the statement.
The Army also denied that speculation that it was currently undergoing training to assault and combat the protesters.
Sri Lanka is currently in the grip of the worst economic crisis since it got independence from the United Kingdom in 1948.
The Army’s statement comes after former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka commented that the troops must not obey illegal orders inferring a crackdown on the protesters.
Stressing that the Army must rethink “before acting on unlawful orders”, Fonseka, in an address to Army Commander Gen Shavendra Silva and Kamal Gunaratne, top bureaucrat of the Defence Ministry, had said the troops must not obey any illegal order.
Fonseka, who was promoted to the rank of field marshal for commanding the Army to victory over the LTTE in 2009, had both Silva and Gunaratne serving under him.
The nationwide anti-government protest entered its eighth day on Saturday, with protesters demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as well as of the entire Rajapaksa family in the wake of the poor handling of the ongoing economic crisis that has brought the nation to a financial standstill.
The Colombo Stock Exchange will remain temporarily closed for a week from Monday to provide investors an opportunity to have “more clarity and understanding” of the current economic conditions in crisis-hit Sri Lanka that would help them “to make informed investment decisions,” it was announced on Saturday.
“The stock market will remain temporarily closed for a period of five business days from April 18, 2022,” the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) said in a statement.
With the shortage of forex, an Indian credit line of USD 500 million for fuel imports has provided a lifeline to the island nation.
India recently announced to extend a USD 1 billion line of credit to Sri Lanka as part of its financial assistance to the country to deal with the economic crisis following a previous USD 500 billion line of credit in February to help it purchase petroleum products.
President Rajapaksa has defended his government’s actions, saying the foreign exchange crisis was not his making and the economic downturn was largely pandemic driven with the island nation’s tourism revenue and inward remittances waning.

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