State of emergency in Sri Lanka lifted as security threat recedes
COLOMBO — The four month State of Emergency which was imposed following the April 21st Easter Sunday suicide bombings of three churches and three luxury hotels, has been lifted after President Maithripala Sirisena issued an Extraordinary Gazette requiring the armed forces to maintain public order countrywide.
The Gazette notification issued under Chapter 40, Section 12 of the Public Security Ordinance, requires the Army, Navy and Airforce to ensure its implementation, in collaboration with the Police.
Police Media Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekera told a news conference on Friday, that the lapse of the Emergency would not in anyway affect the ongoing investigations under the Prevention of Terrorism Act being conducted on the Zaharan Faction of the National Thowheed Jamath, which carried out the Easter Sunday explosions, which left 259 people dead and around 500 injured.
Tourism Minister John Ameratunga, who on Thursday predicted that the State of Emergency would be lifted soon, welcomed the move as a positive step that would assist his Ministry achieve its target of two million tourist arrivals this year.
With the Lonely Planet Magazine re-installing Sri Lanka as the best tourist destination recently, a rating which it removed in the aftermath of last years 52-day October-December Maithripala-Mahinda coup government, concerted efforts had been made to revive the tourist industry, Ameratunga noted adding that many countries had lifted adverse travel advisories issued against Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he expected the tourism sector to be back on track before November this year.
Director General of the Tourism Development Authority ( TDA ) Upali Ratnayake said that occupancy in hotels across the country had improved and that was an indication tourist arrivals would increase in the coming months.
According to TDA statistics 115,701 tourists had visited Sri Lanka in July this year, which was a 83 percent increase over the previous month.
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