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Sri Lankan president declares second state of emergency in little over a month

Sri Lankan president declares second state of emergency in little over a month
Supporters of the Sri Lankan Marxist People's Liberation Front shout slogans during a protest on Saturday against the state of emergency in Colombo, Sri Lanka. File Photo by Chamila Karunarathne

May 7 (UPI) -- Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has declared a state of emergency for the second time in little over a month amid protests calling for him to resign due to economic crisis.

Hundreds of youths gathered outside the Parliament in protest Thursday in addition to the ongoing protests near the Presidential Secretariat and prime minister's official residence, prompting the second declaration on Friday.

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"Under no circumstances @GotabayaR will you hold this country down with nothing but fear & violence. The state of emergency runs counter to seeking any solution to the crisis. JUST RESIGN," opposition Sajith Premadesa leader tweeted.

The European Union delegation in Sri Lanka agreed that the emergency declaration would not help, adding that the protests have been peaceful.

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"A month of peaceful demonstrations has shown how Sri Lankan citizens fully enjoy their right to freedom of expression in the oldest democracy in South Asia," the EU delegation tweeted. "State of emergency will certainly not help solving the country's difficulties and could have a counterproductive effect!"

U.S. Ambassador Julie Chung added in a tweet that "the voices of peaceful citizens need to be heard," and the state of emergency "won't help do that."

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka also said it was "gravely concerned," about the president's second declaration of a state of emergency.

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Rajapaksa previously declared a 36-hour state of emergency on April 1 in response to protests where nearly 50 people were injured and 45 people were arrested after authorities used tear gas and water cannons on protesters.

Protesters have called for Rajapaksa to resign amid his alleged failure to address the country's economic crisis. The country faces power outages up to 13 hours and shortages in basic supplies such as food, gas and medicine after running out of foreign currency to pay for imported goods.

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