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'I won't give space' for another Aragalaya - Sri Lanka's president threatens another state of emergency


Speaking in parliament, Sri Lanka's President railed against the anti-government demonstrations that became known as the aragalaya, Sinhala for "struggle", warning that he would mobilise the military and bring in a state of emergency to end such a movement.

"There are plans to initiate another Aragalaya to change the government. But I won’t give space for that. I will get the military and the forces and I will impose State of Emergency,” Wickremesinghe warned.

In his address, he also lashed out at media outlets for allegedly playing a role in the mass protests that led to the resignation of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Wickremesinghe asserted that the protesters had no one behind them and has repeatedly labelled them as fascists and violent. He claimed that the government would support the right of protest so long as such as demonstrations were authorised by the police.

“Anyone has the freedom to protest. But, go to the Police and take the permission and then walk on the roads, shout I am a dictator or I am like Hitler, but just take permission and don’t obstruct traffic,” he told parliament.

Wickremesinghe has come under fire for his heavy crackdowns on anti-government demonstrators with the EU highlighting the arrest of Sinhala demonstrators under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The 1979 legislation has long been used to target Tamils and Muslims disproportionately despite repeated pledges by successive Sri Lankan administrations that they would repeal the measure.

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