Sri Lankan authorities lifted a nationwide curfew Sunday for an important Buddhist festival, but celebrations were muted as the island nation’s new premier struggled to find his footing and tackle a worsening economic crisis.
A countrywide stay-home order has been in place for most of the week after mob violence left nine dead and over 225 wounded, sparked by attacks on peaceful demonstrators by government loyalists.
Protesters across the Buddhist-majority nation have for weeks demanded the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over Sri Lanka’s worst-ever economic crisis.
Shortages of food, fuel and medicines, along with record inflation and lengthy blackouts, have brought severe hardships to the country’s 22 million people.
Sunday marks Vesak, the most important religious event on Sri Lanka’s calendar, which celebrates Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death.