Sri Lanka declares a state of emergency ahead of presidential elections

TEMPO.CO, jakarta – Acting President Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe ordered a state of emergency late Sunday ahead of the presidential election. The state of emergency was declared to prevent unrest ahead of a vote in parliament this weekend.

Since last April, Sri Lanka has declared states of emergency several times as public protests swept the country. The ongoing economic crisis made it difficult to obtain basic necessities, including energy, and infuriated people.

“It is wise to do so in the interest of public safety, protecting public order and maintaining supplies and services that are essential to people’s lives,” the statement said.

Wickremesinghe declared a state of emergency last week after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country to escape a popular uprising against his government. However, the state of emergency had not been officially declared or declared at the time.

On Sunday evening, Wickremesinghe, who was sworn in as acting president on July 15, 2022, declared a new state of emergency. Emergency regulations have previously been used to use the military to arrest and detain people, search private property and quell public protests.

Monday morning was relatively quiet in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, with traffic and pedestrians on the streets. Bhavani Fonseka, a senior researcher at the Center for Policy Alternatives, said the state of emergency is the government’s standard response. “This has proven ineffective in the past,” Fonseka said.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives and then Singapore last week after hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Colombo. Protesters occupied Rajapaksa’s official residence and office.

Six-time prime minister Wickremesinghe is considered an ally of Rajapaksa. He’s one of the presidential candidates, but protesters want him to resign too.

Sajith Premadasa, leader of the main opposition party, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), is the other frontrunner. Premadasa competes with Dullas Alahapperuma, a senior lawmaker in the ruling party who serves as minister for mass media and spokesman for the cabinet.

Read: Gotabaya Rajapaksa calls Sri Lankan crisis to his government

REUTERS

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