Sri Lanka leader declares emergency amid protests

·1 min read

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka's president declared a state of emergency on Friday amid widespread public protests demanding his resignation over the country's worst economic crisis recent memory.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has issued a decree declaring a public emergency effective Friday.

Sri Lanka is near bankruptcy having announced that it is suspending repayment of its foreign loans and its usable foreign currency reserves plummeting below $50 million. It has $7 billion foreign loan repayments this year out of $25 billion to be repaid by 2026.

Rajapaksa's announcement comes as protesters demonstrate near Parliament while others continue to occupy the entrance to the president's office, demanding Rajapaksa and his powerful ruling family to quit, holding them responsible for the economic crisis.

Similar protests have spread to other locations, with people setting up camps opposite the prime minister’s residence and other towns across the country.

For several months, Sri Lankans have endured long lines to buy fuel, cooking gas, food and medicine, most of which come from abroad. Shortages of hard currency have also hindered imports of raw materials for manufacturing and worsened inflation, which surged to 18.7% in March.

As oil prices soar during the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Sri Lanka’s fuel stocks are running out. Authorities have announced countrywide power cuts extending up to 7 1/2 hours a day because they can’t supply enough fuel to power generating stations.

Krishan Francis, The Associated Press

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