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Sri Lanka renews state of emergency ahead of key vote

#Sri #Lanka #renews #state #emergency #ahead #key #vote

Sri Lanka’s incumbent president on Monday renewed the country’s state of emergency ahead of a parliamentary vote to elect a new head of state – a poll in which he is the top candidate.

Ranil Wickremesinghe automatically became acting president when Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned last week after fleeing to Singapore.

A state of emergency allows troops to arrest and detain suspects, and the President can issue regulations overriding existing laws to deal with civil unrest.

One was already in place, but Parliament had not met to ratify the declaration as required, and Wickremesinghe extended it from Monday “in the interest of public safety,” he said.

Police and military have already tightened security ahead of Wednesday’s vote to elect a president for Rajapaksa’s remaining term, which ends in November 2024.

Wickremesinghe, a six-time former prime minister, is supported for the post by Rajapaksa’s party, which remains the largest in the legislature.

The ex-president was forced to flee when tens of thousands of protesters stormed his official residence after months of demonstrations across the country demanding his resignation amid the country’s economic crisis.

The country’s 22 million people have been suffering from serious shortages of basic necessities since late last year after the country ran out of foreign exchange to finance even its most basic imports.

The country defaulted on its $51 billion foreign debt in mid-April and is in talks with the IMF over a possible bailout.

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