Sri Lankan president declares state of emergency

NEW DELHI: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency on Friday from midnight amid nationwide protests over a massive economic crisis that has brought the island nation to a standstill.
A spokesman for the president said he invoked the tough laws to “ensure public order” after unions staged a nationwide strike on Friday demanding his resignation over the worsening economic crisis.
The statement comes hours after student activists warned they would besiege Parliament.
Thousands of student activists from the Interuniversity Student Federation (IUSF) have blocked the main access road to the parliamentary complex since Thursday and staged protests for almost 24 hours.
Meanwhile, unions have launched an island-wide strike to demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government over their failure to address the economic collapse that has caused unprecedented hardship for the public.
The Sri Lankan government has faced a wave of protests across the country with an increasingly angry public demanding its resignation.
All health, post, port and other government service unions have joined the strike. However, several unions affiliated with the ruling party have refused to join.
Sri Lanka is currently in the midst of economic turmoil unprecedented since its independence from Britain in 1948. The crisis is due in part to a lack of foreign exchange, which means the country is unable to pay for imports of basic food and fuel. , causing acute shortages and very high prices.
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Sri Lanka since April 9, when the government ran out of money for vital imports; commodity prices have skyrocketed and there are severe shortages of fuel, medicine and electricity supply.
Despite mounting pressure, President Rajapaksa and his older brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa have refused to step down.
On Thursday, they won a key election in Parliament when their candidate convincingly won the race for the vice-presidential seat.

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