Security tightened in Sri Lanka’s capital as shops open after state of emergency

COLOMBO: Shops opened in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo on Saturday amid tight security – the first day after a state of emergency was declared to deal with growing unrest amid an unprecedented economic crisis .
In an order late Friday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa invoked strict laws that allow the military to arrest and detain suspects. The state of emergency was necessary to protect public order and maintain essential supplies and services, he said in a proclamation.
Angered by shortages of fuel and other essentials, hundreds of protesters clashed with police and military outside Rajapaksa’s residence on Thursday as they called for his ouster and set several police and government vehicles on fire. army.
Police arrested 53 people and then imposed a curfew in and around Colombo on Friday to contain further sporadic protests.
Reacting to the state of emergency, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung said, “Sri Lankans have the right to peaceful protest, which is essential for democratic expression.”

“I am monitoring the situation closely and hope the next few days bring restraint on all sides, along with much needed economic stability and relief for those who are suffering,” she tweeted.
The island nation of 22 million is struggling with power outages for up to 13 hours a day as the government scrambles to secure foreign currency to pay for fuel imports.
The crisis – the result of economic mismanagement by successive governments – has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has hit tourism and remittances.
The government said it was seeking a bailout from the International Monetary Fund while seeking new loans from India and China.
Indian traders have started loading 40,000 tonnes of rice for rapid shipment to Sri Lanka in the first major food aid since Colombo secured a line of credit from New Delhi.

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