Curfew lifted for Sri Lankans to celebrate Buddhist festival

Curfew lifted for Sri Lankans to celebrate Buddhist festival

On Sunday a nationwide curfew was lifted to allow Sri Lankans to celebrate the Buddhist festival of Vesak, while new prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe assembled a cabinet to solve the island nation's economic and political crisis.

The curfew was imposed on May 9 after deadly clashes that forced Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign as prime minister, leaving his brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa to rule on as president.

Many public and private buildings were flying the multi-coloured Buddhist flag while residents visited temples dressed in all-white for Sunday's festival, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha.

More than a month of predominantly peaceful anti-government protests turned violent at the beginning of last week when supporters of the former prime minister stormed a protest camp in Colombo, torching tents and beating protestors. More than 300 people were killed in the clashes and more than 300 were injured in the clashes against government figures.

The new prime minister, Wickremesinghe, 73, held talks with the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, his office said on Sunday.

The statement said that the discussions with the organizations focused on aid for the issues facing the supply of medicine, food and fertiliser.

Wickremesinghe, who has previously led the country five times, made his first cabinet appointments on Saturday.

As the only lawmaker from his United National Party in the country's parliament, he relies on the support of the Rajapaksas' Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna to form a government.

Saturday's four cabinet appointments, all from the Rajapaksas party, have failed to satisfy protesters who want the family removed from national politics.

Sri Lanka is in the midst of its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, with rising oil prices and shortages of fuel and other essentials, and is being hit hard by the COVID pandemic, rising oil prices and the Rajapaksa government's populist tax cuts.

A truckload of diesel using an Indian credit line arrived in Colombo on Sunday, New Delhi's embassy said in a tweet.