Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declares a state of emergency amid unrest
Colombo, May 06: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has declared a state of emergency for the second time in five weeks amid unrest in the country. This shall come into operation throughout Sri Lanka with effect from midnight of May 6.
A spokesman for the president said he invoked the tough laws to "ensure public order" after shops closed and public transport was halted Friday by unions blaming him for the unprecedented economic crisis, which has ignited weeks of unrest.
The emergency gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain suspects for long periods without judicial supervision.
It also allows the deployment of troops to maintain law and order in addition to police.
"The President used his executive powers to invoke emergency regulations to ensure the maintenance of essential services and public order," the spokesman said.
He said the laws will go into effect from midnight Friday.
Beleaguered Rajapaksa had declared an earlier state of emergency on April 1, a day after thousands of protesters attempted to storm his private home in the capital. That emergency was allowed to lapse on April 14.
But protests have escalated since then.There was also a one day crippling strike of all services.
The students blocked the main entrance to the complex demanding the resignation of the government for its inability to handle the ongoing economic crisis marked by shortages of essentials.
Sri Lanka is currently in the throes of unprecedented economic turmoil since its independence from Britain in 1948. The crisis is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices.
Thousands of demonstrators have hit the streets across Sri Lanka since April 9, as the government ran out of money for vital imports; prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed and there are acute shortages in fuel, medicines and electricity supply.
Despite mounting pressure, President Rajapaksa and his elder brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa have refused to quit.
On Thursday, they won a key election in Parliament when their candidate convincingly won the race for the post of Deputy Speaker.