Crisis-hit Sri Lanka declares 36-hour nationwide lockdown: Key developments



NEW DELHI: In the latest effort to curb unrest stemming from the economic crisis, Sri Lanka has declared a 36-hour nationwide curfew from Saturday evening.
It comes shortly after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a state of public emergency amid a wave of protests over severe shortages of essential supplies.
Many economists say the crisis has been exacerbated by government mismanagement, years of accumulated borrowing, ill-advised tax cuts and the impact of Covid on the economy.
Here are the latest developments from the island nation as it battles the worst economic crisis in its modern history:
36-hour curfew from Saturday evening
Sri Lankan police announced a 36-hour curfew on Saturday to avert planned mass anti-government protests over worsening food, fuel and medicine shortages.
The curfew will come into effect at 6 p.m. Saturday and will be lifted Monday morning at 6 a.m., police said.
On Friday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa invoked a state of emergency following a violent attempted assault on his home.
The move came after a violent protest erupted outside Rajapaksa’s residence on Thursday as hundreds of protesters gathered there and demanded his resignation over what they called his failure to deal with the worst crisis. economy of the island nation.
Several people were injured and vehicles were set on fire as the unrest turned violent. Police fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters after knocking down a steel barricade placed near the president’s residence. Following the incident, several people were arrested and a curfew briefly imposed in most parts of Colombo city.
Shops opened in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, under tight security on Saturday – the first day after a state of emergency was declared.
Acute energy crisis in an island nation
The island nation of 22 million is struggling with power outages for up to 13 hours a day as the government scrambles to secure foreign currency to pay for fuel imports.
More than 40% of Sri Lanka’s electricity is generated by hydropower, but most reservoirs were dangerously low because there had been no rain, officials said.
Most electricity generation comes from coal and oil. Both are imported but in insufficient numbers because the country does not have enough foreign currency to pay for the supplies.
The government said it was seeking a bailout from the International Monetary Fund while seeking new loans from India and China.
India extends aid
India may consider requesting immediate relief by airlift if Colombo requests it, Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay told The Times of India in an exclusive interview.
The $500 million Fuel Line of Credit (LOC) is already being implemented and Sri Lanka has already received supplies. Three shipments have already been delivered, the 4th arrives in Colombo on Saturday, Baglay said.
Indian traders have started loading 40,000 tonnes of rice for rapid shipment to Sri Lanka in the first major food aid since Colombo secured a line of credit from New Delhi.


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