State of emergency imposed in Sri Lanka after president flees

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has authorised the prime minister to carry out presidential duties, the speaker of parliament said on Wednesday after the president fled to the Maldives amid protests.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in the Western Province of the country, said the PM‘s office.

Meanwhile hundreds of protesters in Colombo continue to occupy the official residences of the president and the prime minister after both buildings were stormed on Saturday.

Helicopters have hovered over protesters in Colombo, in what a protest leader has called an “attempt to intimidate”.

“We don’t accept illegal state of emergency imposed by an illegal prime minister. We want both Gota (Rajapaksa) and Ranil (Wickremesinghe) to go, not to impose emergency rule,” Al Jazeera quoted protest leader Kalpana Madhubhashini as saying.

“State of emergency wasn’t imposed to protect people but to oppress the people. We urge everybody to come and join the protest at Galle Face (Green),” he said, referring to a main protest site in the city.

Sri Lanka is facing a severe shortage of fuel and other essential supplies and is seeking a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.