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Sri Lanka’s acting president declares emergency

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Ranil Wickremesinghe cites need to uphold public order and security amid widespread social unrest.

Sri Lanka’s acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe has declared a state of emergency as his administration wrestles with an economic crisis and social unrest engulfing the island nation.

Wickremesinghe announced the measure “in the interests of public security, the protection of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community,” according to a government notice released late on Sunday.

Wickremesinghe was sworn in as interim leader on Friday after overthrown President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled overseas to escape a popular uprising against his government.

Rajapaksa flew to the Maldives and then Singapore after hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of the capital Colombo and occupied his official residence and offices.

Shortly after being sworn in, Wickremesinghe asked legislators to work towards establishing an all-party government.

The interim leader has promised to follow the constitution and establish law and order after months of protests over crippling fuel shortages and soaring prices of basic goods.

Sri Lanka’s parliament met on Saturday to begin the process of electing a  president for the next five years, and a shipment of fuel arrived to provide some relief to the crisis-hit nation.

Wickremesinghe, an ally of Rajapaksa, is a top contender to assume the presidency full-time. Many protesters, however, also want him gone, raising the prospect of further unrest should he be elected.

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