Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Sri Lanka’s acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe has declared state of emergency in the country amid ongoing protest and unrest, according to an official notification.

In the notification released late Sunday, the acting president declared the public emergency on the island, saying: “I am of opinion that by reason of a public emergency in Sri Lanka, it is expedient, so to do, in the interest of public security, the protection of public order, and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community.”

The announcement, to be effective from Monday, came just two days ahead of Wednesday’s parliament vote to elect the new president of the country.

Earlier Ranil Wickremesinghe also announced a state of emergency but his government did not issue an official notification.

Last week, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the country’s interim president after Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country.

Former President Rajapaksa fled to Singapore from the Maldives on Thursday, having left Sri Lanka in the grip of economic chaos as months of nationwide mass protests called for his ouster.

He escaped from Sri Lanka after thousands of protesters stormed the presidential palace in the capital Colombo and set fire to the prime minister’s home.

Singapore’s Foreign Ministry said Rajapaksa was on “private visit” and “has not asked for asylum and neither has he been granted any asylum.”

The Maldives said it allowed a Sri Lanka Air Force plane carrying Rajapaksa and his spouse to land on Wednesday following an official request from the Sri Lankan government.

Sri Lankans blame the Rajapaksa political dynasty for the crisis. Rajapaksa’s brother Mahinda resigned as the prime minister in May.

Crippled by a shortage of foreign exchange reserves after the collapse of its tourism-dependent economy, the island nation of 22 million people has defaulted on all its foreign debt.

It has been unable to pay for food, fuel, and other essentials, with the fuel shortage in turn leading to prolonged daily power cuts. Schools have been closed and state employees asked to work from home.

The government is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package, but no deal has been finalized so far.

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