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Sri Lanka's acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Monday that the country had almost completed bailout talks with international lenders.


"The acting president further explained that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were nearing conclusion, and discussions for assistance with foreign countries were also progressing," Wickremesinghe's office said in a statement.


Late Sunday, Wickremesinghe declared a state of emergency as Sri Lanka continues to face a deep economic crisis.


The move aims to calm unrest ahead of a vote in parliament later this week to elect a new president.


Sri Lanka is seeking a financial rescue plan from the IMF and other organizations.


But top officials say the country’s finances are so poor that even getting a bailout has been difficult.


There has been no comment from the IMF on Wickremesinghe’s statement.


The acting president said that aid was being provided to people and steps taken to ease shortages of fuel and cooking gas.


However, he said “elements within society” were causing unrest.


He said disorder will not be permitted to harm the country’s progress.


Wickremesinghe said that peaceful protesters who had real concerns would be heard by the government.


He urged political parties to put aside their differences and form “an all-party government which would permit the country to recover from the economic crisis.”


Sri Lanka's leaders have declared a state of emergency several times since April.


That was when protests started against the government's reaction to the economic crisis and shortage of necessary goods.


Earlier emergency declarations have permitted the military to arrest and detain people, search private property and end public protests.


Last week, hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters came out onto the streets of Colombo and occupied President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official home and office.


He later fled to the Maldives Islands and then to Singapore.


Parliament accepted Rajapaksa's resignation on Friday.


It met a day later to begin the process of electing a new president.


A vote is expected Wednesday.


The nation received a shipment of fuel providing some aid to deal with the severe shortages.


Wickremesinghe is a six-time prime minister considered an ally of Rajapaksa.


He is one of the top candidates to win the presidency full-time.


But protesters also want him to resign.


The protesters accuse Rajapaksa and his powerful family of stealing from the government.


They also say his poor leadership of the economy led to its collapse.


The family has denied the corruption charges, but Rajapaksa has admitted that some of his policies led to the crisis.


I’m Dan Novak.


Sri Lankan lawmakers elected Ranil Wickremesinghe, the unpopular prime minister and acting president, as the country's new leader Wednesday.

Members of the ruling party hope his government experience will help the country out of the economic and political crisis it is facing. But there is also a risk that the decision will lead to more unrest in the South Asian country.

For months, Sri Lankan protesters have demanded the ouster of the country's top two political leaders. Last week, demonstrators occupied homes, offices and government buildings.

The uprising forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country and resign. The prime minister, Wickremesinghe, became acting president. On Monday, Wickremesinghe declared a state of emergency giving him the power to restore public security and order.

The six-time prime minister received 134 votes in the 225-member parliament. But, given his unpopularity, only a few lawmakers had publicly said they would vote for Wickremesinghe.

Wednesday's vote means Wickremesinghe will finish the presidential term ending in 2024. He will be sworn in on Thursday.

"I need not tell you what state our country is in," Wickremesinghe told lawmakers after his victory was announced. "People are not expecting the old politics from us, they expect us to work together." The 73-year-old leader added, "Now that the election is over, we have to end this division."

After the vote, some supporters celebrated Wickremesinghe's win in the streets. But protesters gathered at the presidential home, calling "Ranil, go home." Visaka Jayawware, a protester, told the Associated Press, "We will keep fighting for the people of Sri Lanka. We have to ask for a general election."

Much of the protesters' anger was directed at Rajapaksa and his family who ruled the country for almost 20 years. But many also blamed Wickremesinghe for protecting Rajapaksa. Last week, a crowd occupied his office and set his home on fire.

Economists say the crisis in Sri Lanka comes from years of poor leadership and corruption. They also say it comes from other troubles, such as growing debt, the effects of the pandemic, and terror attacks that hurt the tourism industry. The country also has $51 billion in foreign debts that it cannot repay.

Before Wednesday's vote, Wickremesinghe said the economy had already collapsed by the time he joined the Rajapaksa government in May.

As prime minister, Wickremesinghe has been working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and countries to look for help. He said Monday that negotiations with the IMF were nearing a conclusion, while talks on help from other countries had also progressed. He also said that the government has taken measures to solve shortages of fuel and cooking gas.

"People deserve fuel, transportation, we deserve anything citizens need," Kasumi Ranasinghe Arachchige, a 26-year-old protester, told Reuters. "Until we see no one in Sri Lanka is struggling, the protest continues."

I'm Caty Weaver.

Hai Do dapted this story for Learning English based on reporting from The Associated Press and Reuters. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

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