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Sri Lanka crisis: Ranil Wickremesinghe tells military, police to restore order

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oi-Deepika S

| Updated: Wednesday, July 13, 2022, 16:40 [IST]

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Colombo, July 13: Acting President of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday said there was a fascist threat to democracy in the country and vowed to restore normalcy as well as stop the destruction of state property, hours after anti-government protesters stormed his office.

Ranil Wickremesinghe File photo of Ranil Wickremesinghe

"We must end this fascist threat to democracy. We can't allow the destruction of state property. The President's office, the President's Secretariat and the Prime Minister's official residence must be returned to proper custody," Ranil Wickremesinghe said in his first televised address after being appointed as Acting President of Sri Lanka.

"Those who are in my office want to stop me from discharging my responsibilities as acting president. We can't let them tear up our Constitution. We can't allow fascists to take over. Some mainstream politicians too seem to be supporting these extremists. That is why I declared a nation-wide emergency and a curfew," Wickremesinghe said.

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Wickremesinghe said he has ordered military commanders and the police chief to do what is necessary to restore order. He said as acting President he is declaring a state of emergency and a curfew in the Western province after his office was stormed by protesters.

He said according to intelligence inputs, protesters were to capture his office and Parliament which prompted the action to impose emergency. Protesters have been demanding resignation of both Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe to restore normalcy in the country.

Thousands of protestors took to the street and some of them stormed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's residence on Wednesday soon after Sri Lanka's Parliament Speaker said that he has not received President Rajapaksa's resignation.

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To control the situation, the security forces used tear gas to disperse the protestors, who are demanding the resignation of the President as well as the Prime Minister.

Rajapaksa with his wife along with two bodyguards fled the country to the Maldives on Wednesday. "Sri Lankan President, the first lady along with two bodyguards were subjected to full approval by Ministry of Defense for immigration, customs and other laws to fly to the Maldives. Air Force aircraft was provided to them in the early morning of July 13," Sri Lankan Air Force Media Director said in a statement.

Corruption and mismanagement have left the island nation laden with debt, unable to pay for imports of basic necessities, causing despair among its 22 million people.

The protesters have vowed to wait until both Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe are out of office.

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