Lanka President’s Whereabouts Not Known, Protesters Still At His Residence
Anti-government protesters in Sri Lanka on Sunday continued to occupy the residences of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, a day after they stormed the premises and set fire to one of the buildings protesting the crisis. serious economic situation of the country. The island nation is still in the dark about the whereabouts of the President.
Rajapaksa’s only contact outside since the protesters entered the city was with Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, who announced Saturday night that the President would step down on Wednesday.
President Rajapaksa informed the Speaker of this decision to resign after Abeywardena wrote to him requesting his resignation following the leaders’ all-party meeting held on Saturday evening.
The speaker will become acting President in the absence of both the President and the Prime Minister. Then an election between MPs must take place to elect a new President. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has also offered to resign.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, whose home was set on fire by an attack last night, remains in place despite calls to step down.
In a statement on Saturday night, Wickremesinghe, who has expressed a willingness to step down, said “the country is experiencing a shortage of fuel and food. There will be an important visit scheduled by the WFP on Tuesday. next week while important negotiations must be continued with IMF So if the current government abandons it then it must be replaced by the next one.” Speaker Abeywardena asked President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe resigned immediately to make way for an all-party government after the country saw its biggest protests amid an unprecedented economic crisis.
The IMF on Sunday said it was closely monitoring developments taking place in Sri Lanka and hoped that the political crisis would soon be resolved to allow the resumption of dialogue on an IMF-supported program. in cash-strapped countries.
Chief of the Defense Staff Shavendra Silva called for calm. He said there was now an opportunity to resolve the current political crisis peacefully and said the public must support the security forces to maintain peace and stability.
Meanwhile, Colombo National Hospital said 102 people had been hospitalized with injuries. Among them are 11 communications staff.
The police task force is accused of brutally assaulting two television journalists at a protest at the prime minister’s private residence.
The attack sparked a backlash that resulted in the house being burned down by protesters.
The main opposition SJB said its constituent parties would meet this morning to take stock of the political situation.
At least four Cabinet ministers have offered to resign. Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said he would quit his job as soon as he received his stock of fertilizer due on Sunday from India.
“I am resigning today after receiving the 40,000 tonnes of urea we received under India’s credit line yesterday,” Amaraweera told reporters.
In May, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had to resign in the face of massive anti-government protests.
The Rajapaksa brothers, Mahinda and Gotabaya, are hailed as heroes by many in Sri Lanka for winning the civil war against the LTTE but are now blamed for the country’s worst economic crisis.
The expected departure of President Rajapaksa on Wednesday and Mahinda Rajapaksa’s resignation as Prime Minister in May are a serious drop from grace for a powerful family that has dominated Sri Lankan politics. for over a decade.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is in the grip of an unprecedented economic crisis, the worst in seven decades, crippled by a severe foreign exchange shortage that has left the country struggling. to pay for imports of essential fuel and other necessities.
The country, with a severe foreign currency crisis leading to foreign defaults, announced in April that it would suspend payments of nearly $7 billion in foreign debt due for this year out of about $25 billion until now. due until 2026.
Sri Lanka’s total external debt is $51 billion.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)