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Sri Lanka orders a curfew in its capital

The curfew that implemented in Colombo has been expanded to last a couple of hours past Friday.

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives to escape months of raging protests calling for his resignation from the government of acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose government imposed the curfew at noon on Thursday.

Demonstrators have occupied Rajapaksa’s palace and Wickremesinghe’s office for several days.

Colombo’s curfew, imposed by Sri Lanka, will remain in effect until 5 a.m. on Friday.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives to escape months of raging protests calling for his resignation from the government of acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose government imposed the curfew at noon on Thursday.

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On Thursday, Reuters reported, there was relative calm at the usual protest locations.

After Rajapaksa’s departure, Wickremesinghe was named acting president by the former president. Protests over the government’s handling of the country’s most severe economic crisis since independence in 1948 sparked this.

Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe have both been targeted by angry protesters in recent days. Although Rajapaksa has stated that he intends to resign, he has yet to do so.

Sri Lanka’s new full-time president is expected to be named on July 20 by the country’s parliament. Sajith Premadasa, the son of former President Ranasinghe Premadasa, is the main opposition leader.

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Senior fellow at the Washington-based Millennium Project Asanga Abeyagoonasekera told CNBC before the curfew was announced that, despite the military’s support for protesters so far, things could change.

It could even lead to a coup in Sri Lanka, as in Myanmar, he warned, “it can lead in a different direction.”

Requirement for newcomers

CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” spoke with Abeyagoonasekera who said protesters want “fresh faces” in politics. After a period of stability has been established, the people want elections to be held, he said. It’s time to form an interim government with the support of all parties, he stated.

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CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” spoke to Ganeshan Wignaraja, senior research associate at think tank ODI Global, who predicted Parliament would elect a new president on July 20.

“Fairly mild” is how Wignaraja described a possible IMF bailout program, with which Sri Lanka is currently engaged in negotiations. In order to combat inflation and keep spending under control, he said such a plan would entail raising interest rates. He added that he hoped normalcy would return to the economy in 2023.

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