Sri Lanka: Military forces have been deployed across the country since July 22 under an indefinite national state of emergency / update 27

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Event

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has authorized the deployment of armed forces across Sri Lanka under extended emergency measures from July 22. An indefinite nationwide state of public emergency continues. Other emergency regulations authorize arrests, searches and seizures to maintain public order. They also allow the president to suspend, change or introduce laws.

Protests over economic problems continue to occur in Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka from July 22 after the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on July 14. The demonstrators continue to occupy the presidential secretariat, but have left the Prime Minister’s office as well as the residences of the President. and prime minister. Disruptive protests are likely in the coming days due to security operations targeting the main Galle Face Green protest camp in Colombo late July 21. Prominent protest groups also oppose the presidential takeover by Wickremesinghe , while demanding that the caretaker government implement tax cuts and presidential powers, among other things.

Civil unrest
Protesters staged sit-ins or marches at or near gas stations, hospitals, government buildings, residences of politicians, public squares, train stations and along major roads connecting cities to several locations. , including Colombo, Galle and Kandy, since March. Violence involving lethal weapons has occurred during protests; significant clashes occurred between pro and anti-government supporters on May 9, mainly in Colombo, leaving nine dead and more than 200 injured. Protesters may engage in additional altercations with police and/or rival factions. Galle Face Green has been a focal point for protests in Colombo; Other popular gathering places in the city include the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) office, Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court, Fort Railway Station, Prime Minister’s Office, and Nelum Pokuna Intersection. Unions have intermittently staged nationwide strikes, which can lead to major disruptions to services and transport.

Security measures
Authorities are likely to maintain heightened security measures across the country, particularly in Colombo, over the coming days. A national curfew lasted from 12:00 p.m. on July 13 to 05:00 a.m. on July 14; Recurring and/or localized curfews are likely in the coming days, particularly across Western Province, including Colombo. Residents must stay home except for emergency reasons during curfews; police-issued passes or approved employment cards are usually required to exit homes for essential work. Officials could extend public states of emergency or curfews in response to security assessments.

Localized transport disruptions and a heavy police presence are likely near any large gathering that occurs. Demonstrations could quickly turn violent, as security forces are usually quick to use force to break up unruly gatherings; Authorities can empower security personnel to open fire on individuals deemed to be damaging public property, violating curfew orders, engaging in illegal acts or harming others. Controls over the media, social media and telecommunications services are possible in the event of significant violence.

Business and travel disruptions
Businesses located in areas experiencing violent protests and/or heightened security measures may temporarily close as a precaution. Postal services to the United States, Israel and the Netherlands resumed after a brief suspension due to fuel shortages; additional disturbances are possible. Power outages and fuel shortages are likely to continue to disrupt business operations in the medium term, potentially causing further disruption and protests.

Various governments, such as Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the United Kingdom, are advising against non-essential travel to Sri Lanka until further notice. Several countries are also warning their citizens in Sri Lanka to avoid protests and plan for shortages of essential items. The United States is advising its citizens to reconsider travel due to fuel and medicine shortages. Other countries may adjust their travel risk assessments in the coming days. Carrier flydubai (FZ) has indefinitely suspended flights to Sri Lanka; Etihad Airways (EY) officials have also announced that flights to Sri Lanka will make refueling stops in India. Other flight schedule changes affecting other air carriers are possible.

The context

Various groups have staged protests in Sri Lanka in recent months to decry deteriorating economic conditions and the government’s response to the situation. The lack of foreign exchange reserves to service external payments has caused an unprecedented economic crisis with worsening shortages of essential goods, such as food, fuel and medicine. Fuel shortages and power outages have, in turn, disrupted water supplies, cargo and passenger transport, and internet services. The country suspended payment of its external debt on April 12, with payments of $4 billion due in 2022. The government is in talks to secure financial assistance from the IMF, marking the 17th time the country has requested a bailout from the global lender since its independence.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was appointed in early May after former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned due to violent protests. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was backed by Sri Lanka’s Podujana Peramuna Party (SLPP) of Rajapaksa, which had previously lost its parliamentary majority after several coalition partners and lawmakers withdrew their support. Wickremesinghe won the July 20 presidential elections and will lead an interim government.

Tips

Confirm flight times, business and medical appointments, deliveries, road conditions and transportation reservations in advance. Follow all instructions issued by local authorities. Obey all curfew orders. Avoid all demonstrations due to the potential for violence. Do not try to cross the roadblocks set up by the demonstrators; wait for the police to clear them before continuing. If clashes break out, leave the area immediately and take refuge in a secure non-governmental building. Allow extra travel time in Colombo and other urban centers until at least July. Expect long lines to get essential items; ensure that emergency plans take into account the current difficulties in accessing essential goods and services. Maintain contact with diplomatic representations.

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