New Delhi: Sri Lanka’s acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday declared a state of emergency in the country with immediate effect as the island nation is set to witness the Presidential election on July 20 election after the post fell vacant following Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation.
The government gazette dated July 17 imposing a state of emergency in Sri Lanka was issued on Monday morning. Meanwhile, the 225-member Parliament is expected to elect the new president on July 20.
As per news agency PTI, the President is empowered to impose emergency regulations in part 2 of the public security ordinance which says “(a) if the president is of the opinion that the police are inadequate to deal with a situation he may gazette an order calling out the armed forces to maintain public order”.
With this, the security forces gain the power to search, arrest, seize and remove weapons and explosives, and enter and search premises or persons.
The Sri Lankan Parliament is set to accept on Tuesday the nominations for the post of president, which fell vacant last week after Rajapaksa fled the country and later resigned.
At least four candidates, including Wickremesinghe, are in the race to become the new president who will serve the remaining tenure of Goatabaya Rajapaksa till November 2024.
The voting in parliament will take place on Wednesday.
On Sunday, the acting president’s office stated that Wickremesinghe had ordered the police to keep track of those who threaten and influence parliamentarians in Wednesday’s vote.
Besides the acting president, main Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa, Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Dullas Alahapperuma, a breakaway SLPP candidate, are the other three leaders who have so far announced their candidacy to contest the vote in Parliament.
The ruling SLPP has officially announced its backing for Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who was sworn in as acting President on Friday after the Speaker accepted Rajapaksa’s resignation letter sent from Singapore.
The 73-year-old politician is currently the frontrunner after his United National Party (UNP) was routed in the 2020 parliamentary election.
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Rajapaksa’s dramatic exit was caused by public anger against him for mishandling Sri Lanka’s economy which has been facing its worst crisis in seven decades with a severe foreign exchange shortage hampering the import of essentials including food, fuel, and medicines. He is currently in Singapore.
The economic crisis sparked a political crisis in the country after a popular uprising against the government with protestors demanding that the powerful Rajapaksa family step down from their decision-making positions.
The island nation off the tip of southeast India needs about USD 5 billion in the next six months to cover basic necessities for its 22 million people, who have been struggling with long queues, worsening shortages, and power cuts.