Politics

Sri Lanka acting president Wickremesinghe declares state of emergency


COLOMBO (REUTERS, AFP) – Sri Lanka’s acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe has declared a state of emergency, according to a government notice released late on Sunday (July 17), as his administration seeks to quell social unrest and tackle an economic crisis gripping the island nation.

“It is expedient, so to do, in the interests of public security, the protection of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community,” the notification stated.

Sri Lanka’s ousted president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled overseas last week to escape a popular uprising against his government, has said he took “all possible steps” to avert the economic crisis that has engulfed the island nation.

Mr Rajapaksa’s resignation was accepted by parliament on Friday. He flew to the Maldives and then Singapore after hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters came out onto the streets of Colombo a week ago and occupied his official residence and offices.

Sri Lanka’s parliament met on Saturday to begin the process of electing a new president, and a shipment of fuel arrived to provide some relief to the crisis-hit nation.

Mr Wickremesinghe, an ally of Mr Rajapaksa, is one of the top contenders to take on the presidency full-time but protesters also want him gone, leading to the prospect of further unrest should he be elected.

Sri Lanka’s protest movement reached its 100th day on Sunday having forced one president from office and now turning its sights on his successor as the country’s economic crisis continues.

Mr Rajapaksa’s mismanagement is blamed for Sri Lanka’s financial turmoil, which has forced its 22 million people to endure shortages of food, fuel and medicines since late last year.

The campaign to oust Mr Rajapaksa, organised mainly through posts on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok, drew people from across Sri Lanka’s often unbridgeable ethnic divides.

Under Sri Lanka’s constitution, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was automatically installed as acting president following Mr Rajapaksa’s resignation, and is now the leading candidate to succeed him permanently in a parliamentary vote this week.



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