The government has ordered armed forces to shoot looters on sight, adding further fuel to clashes - Dragonfly

Anti-government unrest across Sri Lanka has entered a violent phase, with the government preparing to imminently and violently crack down. But armed forces’ actions is more likely to trigger mass unrest and exacerbate the political crisis, warns Dragonfly. 

There have been clashes between protesters and security forces in Colombo in recent days. The government has declared another national state of emergency and issued an order allowing the armed forces to shoot looters on sight.

”This approach appears highly unlikely to deter protesters,” says Henry Wilkinson, chief intelligence officer at security intelligence firm Dragonfly. ”Instead, we predict that this will trigger an imminent high-impact crisis, specifically mass unrest and an escalating political crisis.”

“The government seems unwilling to meet the demands of what were until now peaceful protesters. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned earlier this week, citing the need to establish a unity government, but neither protesters nor opposition MPs seem to have accepted this.

”Crucially, the premier’s brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa remains in post as president, and there are few signs that he will step down voluntarily. Opposition MPs intend to try to impeach President Rajapaksa but this would take at least several months.

“An attempted government crackdown would be highly likely to prompt violent resistance by protesters,” warns Wilkinson. ”For now, it appears that most rioting and violent confrontations will be concentrated in areas around government buildings and officials’ residences in large cities across the country.

”Protesters are likely to use petrol bombs and other crude weapons to target government-linked sites. The more intense protesters’ tactics become, the more likely the security forces will use widespread lethal force to disperse them.”