Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today declared a state of emergency that would give security forces a second power in five weeks to deal with intensifying anti-government protests. The trade union went on a national strike on Friday demanding his resignation in response to the worsening economic crisis.
Earlier today, police re-fired tear gas and water cannons at students attempting to attack Sri Lanka’s parliament after a trade union strike demanding the government’s resignation stopped Sri Lanka.
Months of power outages and severe shortages of food, fuel and medicine have caused widespread suffering for 22 million people across the island nation.
Public anger has sparked persistent protests demanding the government’s resignation against the worst mismanagement of the Sri Lankan crisis since independence in 1948.
Since Thursday, thousands of student protesters have been camping on the road leading to Congress on an artificial island on a lake in the capital Colombo.
Police fired a barrage of tear gas, followed by water cannons from two trucks, but crowds quickly gathered behind a police barricade set up to block access to Congress. rice field.
It was the second time police tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas after a failed attempt on Thursday afternoon.
In a trade union-sponsored strike, millions of workers have quit their jobs today and all but one scheduled train service has been cancelled. Private buses were off the road, industrial workers were demonstrating outside the factory, and black flags were raised nationwide. With an expression of anger towards the government.
Trade union leader Ravi Kumdesh said, “We can pinpoint the failure of the president’s policies that led to this very disappointing state of the economy. He must go.”
Private buses, which make up two-thirds of the country’s fleet, were also off the road, said Gemunu Wijeratne, chairman of the Association of Private Bus Operators, “not serving today, but a group of people participated in anti-government protests. If you want, we will provide you with a free bus within a 20km radius. “
Rajapaksa insisted he would not resign despite escalating demonstrations across the island, including protests that were camped outside his seaside office for nearly a month.
The economic crisis in Sri Lanka took hold after the coronavirus pandemic boosted revenues from tourism and remittances.
Due to the inability to pay for fuel imports, utilities impose daily power outages on their distribution and there are long lines around gas stations and kerosene gas stations. Hospitals are short of important medicines and the government is calling on foreign citizens to donate.
Last month, Sri Lanka announced a default of $ 51 billion in external debt, and Treasury Minister Ali Sabry warned this week that the country would have to endure unprecedented financial difficulties for at least another two years.