The economic slump and soaring inflation led to a nationwide protest in Sri Lanka. The turmoil in the island nation continues. Incidentally, all 26 ministers, besides President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his elder brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, resigned on Sunday amid escalating protests in the country.
All the Cabinet ministers stepped down and submitted their resignations to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who remains in office and is scheduled to meet President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday morning, Leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardena announced. He further stated that the decision was made after discussing the deteriorating economic situation.
Three members of Rajapaksa’s family quit
The sources said that among the Cabinet members who submitted their resignation, including three members of the same Rajapaksa ruling family—Irrigation Minister Chamal Rajapaksa, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, and Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa—were among the first to submit their resignation after the heated argument with Prime Minister Mahinda and Cabinet members, as per the sources.
Earlier, protesters defying the curfew, opposition parties in Sri Lanka, student groups, and citizens of all walks of life came out on the street on Sunday, as public anger is increasing with every passing day. They alleged that Rajapaksa’s administration was responsible for the slowdown of the economy, which led to a severe crisis in the country.
Meanwhile, the nation is looking for a concrete plan to overcome this critical situation. President Rajapaksa has been facing sharp pressure not only from the common people, but even his coalition partners are against him.
Students’ protests have intensified in Colombo, the central Kandy district and other towns, chanting anti-government slogans. As per local media reports, police had to use water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Citizens have continued their protests near their homes in different locations.
Authorities blocked access to major social media sites and messaging apps in the early hours of Sunday, reportedly seeing them as forums for anti-government mobilisations, but it was revoked later.
Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa accused the government of resorting to “authoritarianism”, “autocratic measures” and “dictatorship” to silence people’s voices. “The regime has used excessive power to subjugate and constrain the democratic rights of the people of the country.“Today is one of the darkest days of Sri Lanka’s democratic political life.” He said
Mr. Premadasa said the party had come out on Sunday as the “alternative government” representing people’s concerns. Amid speculation of a “national government” being formed, he dismissed any “political deal” that might bring his party to power. He said, “We will come to power only through the people’s mandate.”
Police detain a government critic
The police are taking all steps to crackdown on the protesters in Sri Lanka. Police arrested government critic Anurudda Bandara. He was using a slogan on a Facebook page called “Gota Go Home”.
Later, he was released on bail. The government decided to withdraw the social media ban following severe criticism over the government’s “stifling of free expression.” Several groups, such as lawyer groups, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, and opposition parties, came forward to end the social media ban.
Indian rice shipments on the way to Colombo
On humanitarian grounds, India has decided to send rice shipments, diesel and other necessary items to its neighbour Sri Lanka. India’s help will help in bringing down rice prices, which have doubled in a year.
The economic and political situation in Sri Lanka is worsening with each passing day. The resignation of the cabinet minister and the increasing protests across the country over the skyrocketing prices of essential items have created a ruckus in the country.
Can Gotabaya Rajapaksa survive in this mayhem? He needs to be careful and apply his political experience to survive in this turmoil. But he needs to improve the economic situation of the country; otherwise, it is almost impossible for him to stretch his government for a long period.