BHARATHAMALLAWARACHI-The Associated Press
Colombo, Sri Lanka (AP) —The acting president of Sri Lanka declared an emergency on Monday, giving him broader powers as protests demanded that state lawmakers resign two days before the election of the new president.
Ranil Wickremesinghe took office on Friday after his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled abroad on Wednesday and resigned after months of massive protests against the country’s economic collapse.
Wickremesinghe’s move to impose a state of emergency is due to ongoing protests demanding his resignation in most parts of the country, with some protesters burning his portrait.
Parliamentarians who met on Saturday began the process of electing new leaders to serve the rest of the term abandoned by Rajapaksa. Nominations for the new presidential election will take place on Tuesday, and if there are multiple candidates, lawmakers will vote on Wednesday.
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The emergency order issued by Wickremesinghe calls for a section of the Public Security Ordinance that allows him to enforce restrictions for public security, maintenance of public order and morals, rebellion, riots or civil turmoil, or maintenance of essentials.
Under urgent regulations, Wickremesinghe can detain, own any property, and search any facility. He can also change or suspend the law.
South Indian island nations are caught up in an unprecedented economic crisis that has caused political uncertainty.
Sri Lanka lacks the funds to pay for the import of basic necessities such as food, fertilizers, medicines and fuels for 22 million people. The rapid economic decline was even more shocking, as the economy was expanding before the crisis and the comfortable middle class was growing.
Sri Lanka is seeking help from the International Monetary Fund and other creditors, but senior government officials say its finances have proved to be very poor and even difficult to get relief.
Economic difficulties led to political turmoil and widespread protests demanding the resignation of the government led by Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa remained in power until last week, although many ministers resigned in April.
The main protests took place in the capital, Colombo, where protesters occupied the front of Cheong Wa Dae for more than 100 days.
Protesters have accused Rajapaksa and his powerful politicians of sucking money from the government’s financial resources and accelerating the collapse of the country by mismanaging the economy. The family denied allegations of corruption, but Rajapaksa admitted that some of his policies contributed to the collapse of Sri Lanka.
Rajapaksa first flew to the Maldives on Wednesday and then to Singapore.
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Deputy President of Sri Lanka declares an emergency in protest | Government. & Politics
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