The President of Sri Lanka declares a state of emergency following unrest

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Colombo. Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday declared a state of emergency throughout the island state.

It comes after violent protests over the island state’s worst economic crisis in decades.

On Thursday, hundreds of protesters clashed with police and the military outside the president’s residence in a suburb of the capital Colombo.

Police arrested 53 people and imposed curfews in and around Colombo on Friday. It happened to curb protests that have erupted due to lack of important goods including fuel.

The curfew has since been lifted.

In a statement issued by the Sri Lankan Government Gazette, Rajapaksa said the state of emergency decision was taken for reasons of public safety.

In addition, for the sake of the protection of public order and to ensure the maintenance of supplies and essential services.

The South Asian island nation is in a bad economic crisis. There are power outages for up to 13 hours a day because the government does not have enough foreign currency to pay for fuel imports.

On Thursday, police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds near the president’s home. It happened after they set fire to several police and military vehicles.

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Tourism, Prasanna Ranatunga, has warned that such protests will hurt the economic outlook.

– The biggest problem facing Sri Lanka is a lack of currency. And protests of this nature will harm tourism and have economic consequences, he has stated.

Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, who is the UN representative in Sri Lanka, has also called for restraint from all groups.

“We are monitoring developments and are concerned about reports of violence in Sri Lanka,” she wrote on Twitter.

Nearly 22 million people live in Sri Lanka.

/ ritzau / Reuters

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