Colombo: Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday declared a state of emergency providing the security forces with sweeping powers a day after hundreds of people protested outside his residence amid an unprecedented economic crisis.
While declaring the emergency, Rajapaksa said he believed there was a “public emergency in Sri Lanka” that necessitated invoking tough laws to give security forces wide authority to arrest and detain suspects.
On Thursday night, hundreds of protestors gathered outside Rajapaksa’s private residence in the capital city after the island experienced long power cuts further worsening the economic conditions.
Riot police had to be deployed to control the protesters, they used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd. Protesters chanted “Gota go home”.
Many of them were seen holding posters with anti-government slogans, and demanded that the government should step down as it has “mishandled” the nation’s economy.
Over the last few weeks, Sri Lanka has seen a severe crisis characterised by acute shortages of food, cooking gas and fuel.
Skyrocketing costs have added to public resentment.
Sri Lanka’s economy was affected by a long-brewing Balance of Payments problem, which was aggravated due to the pandemic and led to a dollar crunch late last year.
The crisis escalated since the start of 2022, hitting Sri Lankans hard.