Sri Lanka president defies calls…for his resignation

Sri Lanka’s beleaguered president will not be resigning, his government’s whip told parliament.

The declaration defies calls from the public and political opponents for Gotabaya Rajapaksa to step down amid the country’s economic crisis.

Crowds have protested for weeks over lengthy power cuts and shortages of gas, food and other basic goods.

The public anger has prompted nearly all Cabinet ministers to quit, and scores of Members of Parliament (MPs) to leave his government.

Opposition MPs have also rejected his invite to form a national unity government, saying voters want the president and entire government to resign.

But on Wednesday, Chief Government Whip, Johnston Fernando, told lawmakers: “As a responsible Government, we state President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will not resign from his post under any circumstances.”

On Tuesday night, Mr Rajapaksa lifted controversial state of emergency measures following further protests, the departure of several government lawmakers and the resignation of his finance minister.

The president had invoked the law – which allowed the arrest of suspects without warrants – on April 1 after protests outside his house.

But he lifted them on Tuesday in an apparent concession to angry citizens. Earlier that day in parliament, 41 MPs had left the president’s ruling coalition to “represent themselves independently”. The implication of this was still unclear.

Sri Lanka was facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from the UK in 1948.

The heavily import-reliant South Asian nation no longer has enough dollar reserves to buy essential items like food, fuel to power vehicles or even generate electricity.

People have been suffering power cuts of up to 13 hours, massive inflation and a shortage of food and basic goods.

Protests across the country continued on Wednesday. Public frustration over the crisis had seen peaceful demonstrations held since January.

But the situation has escalated in the last fortnight, with many more people taking to the streets as power cuts stretched to 13 hours and petrol stations ran out of fuel.

“People can’t afford their daily rice, their dhal, and their basic necessities. People can’t get on buses to go to work, to go to school,” one protester told the BBC this week. -BBC

Show More
Back to top button