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Sri Lanka’s ex-finance minister Basil Rajapaksa resigns from Parliament

Sri Lanka’s ex-finance minister Basil Rajapaksa has resigned from the Parliament on Thursday.

Basil Rajapaksa, the youngest brother of Sri Lanka’s president and former finance minister, resigned from his parliamentary seat on Thursday, the second such resignation from the government in a month from the powerful Rajapaksa family amid public protest over an unprecedented economic crisis in the island nation.

With the Rajapaksas coming under intense public pressure for their mishandling of the economic crisis, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the prime minister and elder brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, had to resign last month.

Talking to reporters here, Basil said, “I resigned my seat to allow Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to nominate someone suitable.”

Asked if he had preempted resignation as he would be disqualified to be in Parliament through the proposed 21st Amendment (21A) to the Constitution due to his holding of both the US and Sri Lankan dual citizenship, Basil, the youngest of the Rajapaksa brothers, said it wasn’t so.

The 21A aims, among other reforms, at barring dual citizens from contesting elections to hold public office.

Both Basil, 71, and Mahinda, 76, fell victim to public rage as demonstrations became widespread urging the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 72, over the economic crisis.

Widely regarded as the intellectual pillar of the Rajapaksa family of political brothers, Basil was the finance minister of Sri Lanka until April 4 when he was sacked by President Gotabaya as the country’s economic crisis worsened.

He was accused of being partially responsible for the economic crisis in the country.

However, Basil denied that the economic crisis was not his making and the country should have gone to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout much earlier.

Sri Lanka is currently in the process of striking a bailout deal with the IMF.

Basil asserted it was his initiative — making contact with India for credit lines — that saved Sri Lanka from suffering more.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament that no country except India is providing money to the crisis-hit island nation for fuel.