Sri Lankan parliament approves state of emergency

Photo Credit: Anadolu Agency (AA)

Sri Lanka’s parliament on Wednesday approved a state of emergency imposed last week by acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

“The Proclamation on the state of Emergency announced by the Acting President under the Public Security Ordinance was passed by a majority of 57 votes . . . 120 votes were cast in favor of it and 63 votes were cast against it!” parliament’s official Twitter page said.

Wickremesinghe announced the measure on July 17 “in the interests of public security, the protection of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community.”

The South Asian island nation has been under a state of emergency several times since April, when mass protests started against the government’s handling of the economy.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned earlier this month after fleeing to Maldives and then Singapore when anti-government protesters took to the streets of Colombo and occupied his official residence and offices. His brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, stepped down as prime minister amid mass protests in May.

Wickremesinghe succeeded Gotabaya as the new president while senior lawmaker Dinesh Gunawardena has been picked as the new prime minister.

Crippled by a shortage of foreign exchange reserves after the collapse of its tourism-dependent economy, the country of 22 million people has defaulted on all its foreign debt.

It has been unable to pay for food, fuel, and other essentials, with a fuel shortage leading to prolonged daily power cuts. Schools have been closed and state employees asked to work from home.

The government is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package, but no deal has been struck yet.​​​​​​​

-AA

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