Sri Lanka renews state of emergency ahead of key vote

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 18 2022 02:00 PM

People offer rice pudding to army soldiers to celebrate the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as president of Sri Lanka, outside the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 15, 2022. The Parliament of Sri Lanka on 15 July accepted the resignation of Rajapaksa after he fled to Singapore through the Maldives following months of anti-government protests fueled by the ongoing economic crisis. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as interim president on July 15. Chamila Karunarathne, EPA-EFE 
People offer rice pudding to army soldiers to celebrate the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as president of Sri Lanka, outside the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 15, 2022. The Parliament of Sri Lanka on 15 July accepted the resignation of Rajapaksa after he fled to Singapore through the Maldives following months of anti-government protests fueled by the ongoing economic crisis. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as interim president on July 15. Chamila Karunarathne, EPA-EFE 

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka's acting president renewed the country's state of emergency Monday ahead of a parliamentary vote to pick a new head of state -- a poll in which he is a leading 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 to make regulations overriding existing laws to deal with any 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 interests of public security", he said.

Police and the military have already stepped up security ahead of Wednesday's vote to elect a president for the remainder of Rajapaksa's term, which ends in November 2024.

Wickremesinghe, a 6-time former prime minister, is being backed for the position 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 over the country's economic crisis.

The nation's 22 million people have been enduring severe shortages of essentials since late last year after the country ran out of foreign exchange to finance even the most vital imports.

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

© Agence France-Presse 

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