Sri Lanka lifted a 12-hour nationwide curfew on Saturday, easing sanctions as new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appointed his first cabinet after nine people were killed in clashes between pro-government and opposition parties.
Former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s supporters turned violent in more than a month of mainly peaceful protests against the government this week after he attacked an anti-government protest camp in the commercial capital Colombo, set fire to tents and clashed with protesters and police.
More than 300 people were injured in the initial violence and retaliation against official figures.
Severely hit by epidemics, rising oil prices and populist government tax cuts, Sri Lanka is in its worst economic crisis since independence from Great Britain in 1948.
Usable foreign reserves have dwindled, and massive inflation and fuel shortages have taken thousands of people to the streets in protest.
The government lifted the curfew from 6am to 6pm on Saturday (0030 GMT) The 24-hour curfew imposed on Monday was lifted for a few hours on Thursday and Friday to allow the purchase of essential supplies.
Rajapaksa resigned after violence erupted on Monday, leaving his younger brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa to rule as president.
Five-time Prime Minister Bikram Singh was appointed to another term late on Thursday.
He appointed four ministers from Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), a decision that is unlikely to satisfy protesters demanding the removal of the party from power.
Among the appointments announced by the president’s office is GL Pereis, the SLPP chairman who held the post before resigning on Monday.
Vikramasinghe is the only lawmaker from his United National Party who holds a seat in parliament and relies on other parties to form a coalition government. The SLPP has promised to support him.
The main opposition party has refused to support him, but several smaller parties have stated they will support the new prime minister’s policy to stabilize the economy.