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Acting leader of Sri Lanka declares state of emergency days ahead of election

The acting president of Sri Lanka declared another state of emergency in the island nation amid widespread unrest on Sunday, marking his latest efforts to prepare for potentially violent protests in the days leading up to the presidential election.

Ranil Wickremesinghe enacted the emergency order on Sunday, giving the leader the power to invoke public security measures such as suppressing riots as the country braces for protests this week. Lawmakers are set to begin the process of choosing a new leader this week, hearing nominations on Tuesday and holding the election on Wednesday.

SRI LANKA SWEARS IN NEW ACTING PRESIDENT AMID INTERNAL UPHEAVAL

Wickremesinghe is considered a top contender in the election despite vowing to resign from his previous position as prime minister after widespread demands to step down. However, he later reversed course, assuring voters he is “not the same administration.”

Girls display their arms painted with message “Ranil go home’ referring to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the protest site in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Rafiq Maqbool/AP

“I’m not the same, people know that,” he told CNN. “I came here to handle the economy.”

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Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned from office on Thursday, one day after fleeing the country, bending to pressure from months of protests that have nearly dismantled the country’s government. Wickremesinghe was sworn in as acting president the following day.

Sri Lanka’s economy has experienced months of turmoil, and the country has been largely relying on aid from outside countries and experiencing severe shortages of food, fuel, and other necessities. Demonstrators have stormed several governmental buildings, noting they will continue until all the nation’s leaders resign.

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