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Sri Lankan students protest gov't decision to close universities during Commonwealth summit

Sri Lankan university students have protested a government decision to close state universities during a summit of leaders from Commonwealth countries next week.

About 2,000 students demonstrated Friday outside the main railroad station in the capital, Colombo, blocking traffic while shouting slogans and displaying placards.

University authorities announced Wednesday that a one-week vacation would be given to students during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which will be held in Colombo. They asked students to move out from dormitories, saying they need to be renovated.

The convener of the University Students' Federation, Sanjeewa Banadara, condemned the decision, saying the move was aimed at restricting students from staging protests during the summit.

The Commonwealth is a loose association of 54 members, mostly former British colonies, and the leadership summit is biennial.