Sri Lanka lifts curfew as new pm appoints Cabinet

Sri Lanka lifts curfew as new pm appoints Cabinet

Sri Lanka lifted a nationwide curfew for 12 hours on Saturday, easing tight controls as new prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made his first cabinet appointments after clashes between pro- and anti-government groups killed nine people.

More than a month of predominantly peaceful protests against the government turned violent this week after supporters of former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stormed an anti-government protest camp in Colombo, burning tents and clashing with protesters and police.

More than 300 people were injured in the initial violence and reprisals against government figures.

Sri Lanka is in the throes of its worst economic crisis since independence from Great Britain in 1948, due to rising oil prices and tax cuts by the populist government.

Inflation and shortages of fuel have caused thousands to be taken to the streets in protest, and useable foreign reserves have dwindled.

The curfew was lifted from 6 a.m. 0030 GMT on Saturday until 6 p.m. A 24 hour curfew imposed on Monday had been lifted for a few hours on Thursday and Friday to allow the purchase of essential supplies.

Rajapaksa stepped down after violence flared on Monday, leaving his younger brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa to rule on as president.

Wickremesinghe, a five-time prime minister, was appointed to another term on Thursday.

He has appointed four ministers from the Rajapaksas' Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna SLPP a decision that won't satisfy the protesters who want to remove the party from power.

The appointments announced by the president's office include G.L. Pereis, the SLPP chairman who had held the post before resigning on Monday.

Wickremesinghe is the only lawmaker in his United National Party to hold a seat in parliament, and reliant on other parties to form a coalition government. The SLPP has pledged to support him.

The main opposition has ruled out supporting him, but several smaller parties have said they would back policies by the new prime minister to stabilise the economy.