Sri Lanka court bars ex-PM Rajapaksa from foreign travel

Colombo, May 12 (EFE).- A Sri Lankan court Thursday barred ex-prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his son from overseas travel pending an investigation into deadly attacks on peaceful demonstrators earlier this week.

The Colombo Magistrate Court also banned 17 others, including former cabinet ministers, from traveling abroad as pressure piled up for a probe into the attacks on Monday.

The attacks left at least nine people, including a legislator, dead and nearly 300 injured after government supporters stormed anti-government protesters agitated over alleged economic mismanagement that has plunged the island nation into an unprecedented social and political crisis.

The beleaguered president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, facing ouster calls, promised an independent investigation into the attacks by the supporters of his elder brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The court barred some former ministers who attended a meeting of the then-prime minister with his supporters at his official residence in Colombo.

Some senior police officials — accused of failing to prevent the attacks –have also been barred from traveling abroad.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, who stepped down as prime minister after the violence, has since been taken to a naval base in the eastern port district of Trincomalee.

His son, former youth and sports minister Namal Rajapaksa said he would cooperate in any investigation into “the unfortunate events that took place on Monday.”

“Neither my father nor myself have any intention to leave Sri Lanka and we will continue to remain here,” he wrote on Twitter.

“We must bring to justice all those who were in any way involved to spread hate and incite violence. Law and order must prevail for Sri Lanka to move forward.”

Meanwhile, protests calling for the resignation of President Rajapaksa continued unabated despite restrictions.

The government lifted a curfew in the morning but reimposed it in the afternoon.

In Colombo, hundreds of protesters demonstrated near the presidential secretariat for the 35th consecutive day.

People bought groceries to stock essentials amid political uncertainty as the administration ran without a government since the prime minister’s resignation.

Three government sources told EFE that former five-time prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was likely to be named the new premier.

Wickremesinghe’s party has only one seat in the 225-member parliament.

Wickremesinghe is credited for changing a contracted economy in 2001 to a strong one with around $4.5 billion in donor support.

However, the subsequent government derailed his fiscal consolidation program.

The president has promised to appoint a new cabinet within this week.

“I am taking steps to form a new government to control the current situation, to prevent the country from falling into anarchy as well as to maintain the affairs of the government that have been halted,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

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