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Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency. He has given security forces sweeping powers in five weeks to deal with anti-government protests for the second time. President invoked strict laws to ensure public order after trade unions staged a nationwide strike. The Union demanded his resignation over a worsening economic crisis. The police again fired tear gas and water cannon at students trying to storm Sri Lanka’s parliament. The country was brought to a halt by a trade union strike demanding the government step down.

Acute shortages of food and pharmaceuticals in Sri Lanka have caused widespread suffering.

Acute shortages of food and pharmaceuticals have caused widespread suffering across the island nation of 22 million people. Public anger has sparked protests demanding the government’s resignation over its mismanagement of the crisis—Sri Lanka’s worst since independence in 1948. Since Thursday, thousands of student protesters had been camped on the road leading to the legislature on an artificial island on a lake in the capital Colombo. Officers fired a barrage of tear gas, followed by water cannon from two trucks. But the crowd quickly reassembled behind police barricades set up to block access to the parliament.

It was the second time police tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas after an unsuccessful attempt on Thursday afternoon. Today, millions of workers stayed off the job in a strike organized by the country’s trade union movement. With all but one scheduled train service canceled. Privately owned buses were off the roads while industrial workers demonstrated outside their factories. Black flags were hung across the country in anger against the government. Mr. Rajapaksa has insisted he will not step down despite escalating demonstrations. This includes a protest camped outside his seafront office for nearly a month. After the coronavirus pandemic hammered income from tourism and remittances, Sri Lanka’s economic crisis took hold.

By Shree