International Politics

Sri Lanka President ‘ready For Discussions’ With Demonstrators Amid Economic Turmoil

Sri Lanka Prez Rajapaksa finally agreed to hold a discussion with demonstrators of Galle Face after at least five days of burgeoning anti-government protests.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on Wednesday finally agreed to hold a discussion with demonstrators of Galle Face after at least five days of burgeoning anti-government protests in Colombo demanding his resignation over incapacity to quell the economic crisis in the island nation. This comes after nearly two dozen demonstrators engaged in sit-in protests outside Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence, becoming the focal point of a country-wide escalation of discontent. Venting against the spiralling economic crisis, the anti-government protestors were seen holding banners and handwritten posters saying “Our Govt. Failed Us.”
Protests in Sri Lanka

On Tuesday, thousands of protestors took to the streets agitating against the rising inflation, which is reportedly the worst in 70 years. The protests were triggered by skyrocketing prices of diesel. Meanwhile, adding to the mounting struggle of Sri Lankans, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) last Thursday announced that the island country will witness power cuts for up to 12 hours a day. The state electricity monopoly also flagged on March 39 that they are compelled to take such extreme measures owing to the inadequate power generation capacity, fuel shortage and unavailability of generators.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s special address to the crisis-hit nation on Monday when he appealed for “patience” with the protestors. He also urged demonstrators to end their calls for ousting the ruling government as public anger remained fever-pitch after people continued to take to the streets over the country’s deteriorating economic situation. This came after Gotabaya Rajapaksa on April 11 called an eleven-party coalition of allies comprising 42 independent MPs to hold talks in response to the worst economic turmoil faced by his nation. At the meeting, the MPs hoped to discuss prospects of removing his elder brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa from the prime ministerial position and appointing a new cabinet.

Sri Lanka imposed import ban on 367 non-essential items

The developments come as devastated civilians in Sri Lanka are reeling under massive inflation, food shortage, curfews, stemming from what experts believe is mismanagement of foreign borrowings and ill-advised tax cuts by the ruling government. The flawed policies of Rajapaksa have led the foreign debt of Colombo to 101% of the GDP in 2021. In its latest attempt to solve the crisis, Sri Lanka floated the rupee in order to “depreciate” the currency and avail loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), sending prices of basic commodities to skyrocket. With the cost of necessities spiralling to the highest in 3 decades, Sri Lanka on Wednesday issued an extraordinary gazette notification extending import restrictions on over 397 non-essential items.