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Empty protest camps in Sri Lanka

Through loudspeakers, security forces ordered a few hundred protesters to gather at a designated location. Several people were arrested, according to an AFP correspondent on the spot.

Activists occupied the area after storming the presidential palace on 9 July, forcing President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee. The protesters had earlier announced that they intended to evacuate the area on Friday afternoon, when new President Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to present his new government.

Former Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was sworn in as president of the crisis-hit country on Thursday. He promised to crack down on protesters if they occupied government buildings or tried to overthrow the government by illegal means.

Wickremesinghe, who has been acting president since Rajapaksa stepped down last week, won the parliamentary elections by a large majority on Wednesday.

Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to form a government that is supposed to lead the country out of the economic crisis that led to widespread and protracted demonstrations that forced the resignation of the former president. He is not popular with the public, but some protesters have declared their willingness to give him a chance.

Sri Lanka has been affected by prolonged power outages and the population has been suffering from shortages of fuel, food and medicine for several months.

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