President Gotabaya Rajapaska has declared a state of emergency in the midst of rising public protests across Sri Lanka and ahead of a large street march on Sunday.
In the midst of rising public protests demanding Rajapaksa’s immediate resignation over the ongoing fuel and energy crises in the island nation, the President enacted draconian legislation empowering the military to arrest and detain suspects for long periods without charge or trial.
On Thursday night, a violent protest erupted outside the President’s house in the suburbs of Colombo where police clashed with the public, leading to the injuries of 24 police personnel and 15 citizens.
A bus and many other police cars were set on fire by the protesters.
Over 50 demonstrators were detained, with 20 of them receiving bail on Friday and the remainder being remanded.
In sections of Colombo and the entire Western Province, where the capital city is located, an overnight curfew has been imposed.
Meanwhile, the government’s ally, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), led by former President Maithripala Sirisena, has urged the President to form a caretaker administration with all political parties’ participation as soon as possible to avert the looming crisis.
If Rajapaksa does not comply with the party’s demands, it has threatened to resign from all cabinet portfolios held by its MPs.
The SLFP’s 14 MPs have aided Rajapaksa’s government in achieving a 2/3 majority in Parliament, with 225 members.
Sri Lanka is experiencing its greatest economic crisis since independence, with citizens facing 13-hour daily power outages, days-long lines for fuel and gas, and supermarkets bare of basic food and medicine.
With a fuel cargo received through the Indian line of credit, the power outage will be limited to two hours starting Sunday.
Since January, India has provided approximately $2.5 billion in aid to Sri Lanka to help them overcome the crisis.