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Sri Lanka police teargas protesters in Colombo

Policemen stand guard at Sri Lanka's president office building as protesters (unseen) gather outside, in Colombo, May 7, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Sri Lankan police have used tear gas and water cannon against protesters who took to the streets in the capital in defiance of a state of emergency.

Anti-government protesters were back on the streets in Colombo on Saturday, a day after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a new state of emergency.

They gathered outside Rajapaksa's office and the official residence of his elder brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, demanding the government step down.

People are angry over the worsening economic crisis they believe the government is mishandling.

The European Union, the United States and Canada have questioned use of emergency powers, which allow deployment of troops to the streets.

Police use water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters in Colombo, Sri Lanka, May 6, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

The EU said on Saturday that declaring a state of emergency “could have a counterproductive effect.” It said a month of anti-government protests had so far been peaceful.

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung said declaring a second state of emergency in as many months “won’t help.”

“The voices of peaceful citizens need to be heard.”

David McKinnon, Canada’s ambassador, said Sri Lankans had a right to peaceful protest under a democracy and that it was “hard to understand why it is necessary, then, to declare a state of emergency.”

President Rajapaksa had declared another state of emergency in April, after thousands of protesters gathered outside his private home in Colombo. That emergency was allowed to lapse on April 14.

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