Sri Lankan president declares state of emergency


NEW DELHI: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday declared a state of emergency from midnight amid nationwide protests against a massive economic crisis that has crippled the island nation.
A spokesman for the president said he invoked the strict laws to “ensure public order” after unions staged a nationwide strike on Friday to demand his resignation due to the worsening economic crisis.
The statement comes hours after student activists issued warnings to besiege Parliament.
Thousands of student activists from the Interuniversity Student Federation (IUSF) had blocked the main access road to the parliamentary complex since Thursday and led protests for nearly 24 hours.
Meanwhile, unions have launched a crippling strike across the island to demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government over their inability to deal with the economic collapse that has caused unprecedented hardship to the public. .
The Sri Lankan government has faced a nationwide wave of protests with an increasingly furious public demanding its resignation.
All health, postal, port and other government service unions have joined the strike. However, several unions favorable to the ruling party refused to join.
Sri Lanka is currently in the throes of an economic crisis not seen since its independence from Britain in 1948. The crisis is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which means the country cannot afford to pay imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices.
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Sri Lanka since April 9, as the government ran out of money for vital imports; commodity prices have soared and there are severe shortages of fuel, medicine and electricity supplies.
Despite growing pressure, President Rajapaksa and his older brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa refused to step down.
They won a key parliamentary election on Thursday when their candidate convincingly won the race for vice-president.

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