Amid protests over the country’s worst economic crisis in decades, the Sri Lanka government has imposed a curfew across the country from Saturday at 6 pm to Monday at 6 am, Reuters reported. Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa also declared a nationwide public emergency late on Friday. The President invoked tough laws allowing the military to arrest and detain suspects for long periods without trial, as demonstrations calling for his ouster spread across the South Asian nation.
The developments come as nationwide protests against the government have intensified over the past few days resulting in an increase in incidents of clashes. The clashes in Colombo, which took place on Monday, killed seven people and injured 231, with 218 of them hospitalized, Sputnik reported citing the Sri Lankan media outlet.
Anger against Rajapaksa’s handling of a deepening economic crisis in the island nation of 22 million people spiraled into violence late on Thursday, as hundreds of protesters clashed with police for several hours. A severe shortage of foreign currency has left Rajapaksa’s government unable to pay for essential imports, including fuel, leading to debilitating power cuts lasting up to 13 hours.
On Wednesday, March 30, Sri Lanka began imposing record nationwide 10-hour daily power cuts, up from the seven-hour power outage announced in the first week of March, as it ran out of hydroelectricity. This soon, increased to 13 hours of total blackout as the country ran out of diesel as well. India has reportedly agreed to send aid of 40,000 tonnes of diesel. This will be in addition to the USD 500 million credit line for buying fuels India offered earlier this year. Sri Lanka imports 100% of its petroleum needs.