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Acting President of Sri Lanka, Declares State of Emergency Ahead of MPs’ Vote

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Sri Lanka’s acting president, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has declared a state of emergency as his administration seeks to quell social unrest and tackle an economic crisis gripping the island nation.

“It is expedient, so to do, in the interests of public security, the protection of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community,” a government notice released late on Sunday said.

Wickremesinghe had announced a state of emergency last week, after president Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country to escape a popular uprising against his government.

It was unclear whether that order had been withdrawn or had lapsed, or whether Wickremesinghe had reissued the order in his capacity as acting president, having been sworn in on 15 July. A spokesperson for Wickremesinghe’s office did not respond to Reuters request for comment.

The specific legal provisions of the latest emergency are yet to be announced by the government but previous emergency regulations have been used to deploy the military to arrest and detain people, search private property and dampen public protests.

The country’s commercial capital, Colombo, remained calm on Monday morning, with traffic and pedestrians out on the streets.

Bhavani Fonseka, senior researcher at the Centre for Policy Alternatives, said declaring a state of emergency was becoming the government’s default response.
“This has proven ineffective in the past,” Fonseka told Reuters.

Rajapaksa’s resignation was accepted by parliament on Friday. He flew to the Maldives and then Singapore after hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters came out on to the streets of Colombo a week ago and occupied his official residence and offices.

Sri Lanka’s parliament met on Saturday to begin the process of electing a new president, and a shipment of fuel arrived to provide some relief to the crisis-hit nation.

Wickremesinghe, an ally of Rajapaksa, was nominated by the ruling party as its candidate to be the next president but protesters also want him gone, leading to the prospect of further unrest should he be elected.

Wickremesinghe was appointed interim president on Friday after informally occupying the role since Wednesday, and the announcement was greeted with anger and frustration on the streets of Colombo.

Wickremesinghe, who has now been prime minister six times, stands accused of protecting and propping up the Rajapaksa family dynasty for years, shielding them from corruption charges and enabling their return to power.

His decision to agree to become a caretaker prime minister two months ago was seen by many as the reason Rajapaksa stayed in power for weeks longer than he would have otherwise.

The public frustration at Wickremesinghe has manifested multiple times, from his private residence being burned down to his offices being stormed by protesters on Wednesday.

Wickremesinghe will be the candidate for the Rajapaksas’ ruling party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), which still has the largest number of seats in parliament. He stands a high chance of being elected after the vote by MPs in parliament scheduled for next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Wickremesinghe’s nomination even appeared to cause divisions with the SLPP. The party chair, GL Peiris, sent a letter to the party’s general secretary expressing “amazement and total disbelief” at the statement that it would be backing Wickremesinghe as its presidential nominee.

However, Wickremesinghe will be up against several candidates in the presidential secret ballot next week, including the leader of the opposition, Sajith Premadasa – who has vowed to make sure “an elective dictatorship never, ever occurs” and go after the leaders who “looted the country” – and another SLPP politician, Dullas Alahapperuma, which could split the vote of the ruling party.

Former army chief Sarath Fonseka has also signalled his intention to run.

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Police arrest suspected vehicle, motorcycle snatcher in Kaduna

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The Police Command in Kaduna State, said its operatives have arrested a suspect with 30 different fabricated master keys of vehicles and motorcycles in Kaduna.

The command’s spokesperson, ASP Mansir Hassan, confirmed the arrest to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Kaduna.

Hassan said, “The suspect specialises in vehicle and motorcycle theft .

“In July 20, at about 0230hrs our personnel received a distress call that a shop was burgled.

“Upon receiving the information, our operatives immediately drafted to the area.”

He said on arriving at the scene, that the suspect, Zahradeenee Suleiman was arrested in the shop .

According to him, the suspect is a resident of Galma road, Tsugugi area of Sabon Gari Zaria Local Government Area of Kaduna State and 35 years old.

“Upon search, about 30 different sizes of keys of vehicle and motorcycles were recovered including two locally fabricated master keys in his possession,” Hassan said.

He added that the suspect was said to have specialised in the theft of vehicles and motorcycles.
Hassan said that the suspect would be charged to Court for prosecution after the completion of investigation.

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Biden condemns Russia’s 16-year sentence for U.S. reporter

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President Joe Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden has sharply criticised the 16-year sentence for U.S reporter Evan Gershkovich, imposed on Friday by a Russian court.

According to the president, Gershkovich was targeted by Russia “because he is a journalist and an American.”

Biden, in a statement released by the White House, said the reporter had “committed no crime.”

He added that the U.S. government will continue to fight for the Wall Street Journal reporter’s release as well as for all U.S. citizens unlawfully detained abroad.

“Journalism is not a crime,” Biden said, adding that both he and the United Nations have said that Russia is wrongfully detaining the reporter.

“We will continue to stand strong for press freedom in Russia and worldwide, and stand against all those who seek to attack the press or target journalists,” the U.S. president added.

(dpa/NAN)

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APC, Police disagree over attack on Okpebholo, Shaibu in Edo

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo Staten has accused the state police command of complicity in the attack on its Governorship Candidate, Sen. Monday Okpebholo and the reinstated deputy governor, Philip Shaibu.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that gunmen attacked the two on Thursday while exiting Benin Airport shortly after they arrived from Abuja aboard a chartered flight.

The party, during a press conference on Friday in Benin, called for the sack of the Commissioner of Police, Funso Adegboye.

Kassim Afegbua, Director of Media, APC Campaign Council for the Sept. 21 election, said the ruthless shooting and killing of a policeman was witnessed by the police chief.

Afegbua said the party had petitioned the Inspector-General of Police to look into the case and check how the police commissioner undermined the role of the police.

According to him, some members of the party, who saw the commissioner at the airport shared the intelligence of what was about to happen, but unfortunately, he allegedly ignored it.

The director of media described the attack on the candidate as an assassination attempt as well as a disdain for peace that the state and its people were known for.

Reacting, Adegboye exonerated himself of any wrongdoing during the mayhem.

He refuted a claim that intelligence was shared with him ahead of the attack, saying there was no crisis throughout his stay at the airport.

The commissioner noted, however, that an investigation was ongoing and those whose names had been mentioned in the incident would be arrested soon.

(NAN)

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