Following a week of turmoil and unrest in Sri Lanka, the country’s president has now declared a state of emergency. This week, Sri Lankan protestors tried to storm the president’s house following the country’s longest power blackout ever recorded. The protestors called on the president and his powerful family, who hold a number of prominent political positions in Sri Lanka, to step down. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka grapples with shortages on essential goods, including medicines needed in hospitals for surgery.
Now, more soldiers are being armed with automatic assault rifles. Normally, Sri Lanka’s military can only play a supporting role to police, but the state of emergency gives them authority to act alone, including to detain civilians. The president said the state of emergency is intended to maintain order.
“…protection of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community”.
The US ambassador to Sri Lanka stated that Sri Lankans have the right to protest peacefully, particularly for “democratic expression”. She said she hopes the coming days will bring “restraint from all sides”, as well as economic stability.
Sri Lanka’s longest ever power blackout happened when diesel stopped being available for sale in the country. The outage prompted enraged protests across Sri Lanka, as hundreds of drivers blocked main roads in several towns. Recent news reports now say that India has sent Sri Lanka 40,000 tonnes of diesel, and will soon send a supply of rice.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Hindustan Times
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