Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe makes U-turn on order declaring key government buildings in Colombo as high security zones

PTI | Colombo | Updated: 02-10-2022 02:15 IST | Created: 01-10-2022 22:07 IST
Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe makes U-turn on order declaring key government buildings in Colombo as high security zones
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Image Credit: ANI
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Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe issued an extraordinary gazette on Saturday, revoking last week's order that declared several key locations in Colombo as high security zones, after sustained pressure from the Opposition and country's human rights watchdog condemning his move.

On September 23, Wickremesinghe declared the Parliament, Supreme Court complex and the President's Secretariat among others as high security zones, and banned any kind of protest or agitation near its premises.

The move, which many see as a throwback to the restrictions imposed during the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) days that saw suicide explosions at such key locations, prevents even the parking of cars near the vicinity of key government buildings.

"By gazette number 2299/71 dated today, President Wickremesinghe states that he was revoking the said order," according to an extraordinary gazette notification issued by the Presidential Secretariat on Saturday.

In a notification issued on September 23, the President's Secretariat declared key government installation localities as high security zones.

Areas around Parliament, Supreme Court Complex, High Court Complex in Colombo, Magistrate Court Complex in Colombo and Attorney General's Department, Presidential Secretariat, President's House, Sri Lanka Navy Headquarters and Police Headquarters have been declared as High Security Zones, the notification said.

The zone also includes the Ministry of Defence and Sri Lanka Army headquarters located near parliament, the Sri Lanka Air Force headquarters, Prime Minister's Office, the Temple Trees prime minister's residence and the Official Residences of the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and the Commanders of the Tri Forces, it added.

According to the notification, protests and public gatherings in the areas declared as High Security Zones are banned while vehicle parking won't be allowed in the vicinity of any of the designated locations.

Wickremesinghe's U-turn came amid sustained pressure from the principal Opposition, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) party, which filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the order.

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka also condemned the move, and called it illegal.

Significantly, some of the designated locations were the sites for large public agitations against the Rajapaksas for their mishandling of the country's economic crisis.

Anti-government protesters are now getting arrested for unlawful entry to these key areas and the government's use of the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act to keep under detention has also come under criticism from international rights groups.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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