Sri Lankan President declares emergency ahead of continuous strike

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Colombo: President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has declared a state of emergency from midnight Friday, following Friday’s island-wide trade union strike before Sri Lanka completely stalled and a planned sustained ‘strike’ from May 11 against the government.

The emergency law gives the military broad powers to crack down on protests and make arrests without a court warrant. President Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency over the powers vested in him under the Public Safety Ordinance.He said in a gazette notification on the imposition of emergency regulation, I am of the opinion that on account of a public emergency in Sri Lanka, to do so in the interest of public safety, the protection of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services necessary for the life of the community.

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The strike announced by trade unions on Friday, demanding the resignation of the President, brought the country to a complete standstill. Trade union leaders threatened that if Rajapaksa did not resign by May 11, they would resort to a sustained trade union action, stalling the country by blocking transport, electricity, fuel and food supplies.

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On 1 April, Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency, a day after hundreds of protesters tried to storm his private residence over the unprecedented economic crisis. However, he withdrew the decision for fear of losing the attempt to raise it by a vote in Parliament.

People have taken to the streets with no food, fuel, cooking gas and medicines in dire economic straits and power stations are cut for more than seven hours a day without fuel to run power stations.

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