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Emergency extended in Sri Lanka till August 14

Ranil Wickremesinghe declared emergency on July 13 to control protests

SRI LANKA-CRISIS/ (File) Lankan security forces during anti-government protests in Sri Lanka | Reuters

Sri Lanka's Parliament on Wednesday approved the state of emergency imposed on July 13 to give the security forces sweeping powers to arrest and detain individuals. the state of emergency would be in force until August 14.

The emergency regulations declared by the then Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe needed Parliamentary sanction within 14 days. It was approved on Wednesday with 120 MPs voting for it and 63 against in the 225-member Parliament. Wickremesinghe was elected Sri Lanka's President on July 20. The main Opposition SJB and the main Tamil party TNA voted against it while at least four of the ruling SLPP members also voted against it.

During a debate in Parliament, the Opposition lawmakers accused Wickremesinghe of ordering a crackdown on the peaceful protesters by using the state of emergency. The government was blamed for unleashing a crackdown on protesters who had forced the resignation of the Rajapaksa family.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) argued that protesters were 'terrorists' and were being led by 'extremist political elements' who wanted anarchy to prevail. Over 70 of SLPP parliamentarians suffered arson attacks on their personal properties and Wickremesinghe's house was also set on fire by the protestors .

Main Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said, Protesters were peaceful for months. Where was the beginning of violence? he asked, accusing the government of unleashing violence on May 9 by attacking the protesters.

Earlier, addressing Parliament, newly-appointed Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said the government is ready to listen to the demands of democratic public protesters, but denounced acts of terrorism, calling it the greatest threat to democracy.

Sri Lanka's security forces forcibly evicted anti-government protesters camped outside the presidential office in Colombo in a pre-dawn raid last week on the order of President Wickremesinghe that left more than 50 people injured. The assault on the protesters evoked widespread criticism, including from foreign envoys stationed in Colombo.

The rights groups came out vocal on Wednesday after a leading protest activist named Danish Ali was arrested on board a flight to Dubai on Tuesday night.

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