Photo used for illustrative purpose.
Sri Lanka’s acting president on Monday declared a state of emergency giving him broad authority amid growing protests demanding his resignation two days before the country’s lawmakers are set to elect a new president.
Ranil Wickremesinghe became acting president on Friday after his predecessor, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, fled abroad on Wednesday and resigned after months-long mass protests over the country’s economic collapse.
Wickremesinghe’s move to impose a state of emergency comes as protests demanding his resignation too have continued in most parts of the country, with some protesters burning his effigy.
Lawmakers who met on Saturday began the process of electing a new leader to serve the rest of the term abandoned by Rajapaksa. Nominations for the election of the new president will be heard on Tuesday, and if there is more than one candidate the lawmakers will vote on Wednesday.
The emergency decree issued by Wickremesinghe invokes sections of the Public Security Ordinance that allow him to make regulations in the interests of public security, the preservation of public order, the suppression of mutiny, riot or civil commotion, or for the maintenance of essential supplies.
Under the emergency regulations, Wickremesinghe can authorize detentions, take possession of any property and search any premises. He can also change or suspend any law.