Sri Lanka’s president seeks unification as economic crisis worsens | Political news

Gotabaya Rajapaksa offered to share power with the opposition as protests escalated across the island demanding his resignation over worsening shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

Prominent President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka has called for a unity government to deal with the country’s economic crisis, as cabinet ministers and central bank governors offer to resign and trade The stock market stopped twice because the stock price fell.

“The President invites all political parties in the parliament to accept cabinet posts and join the effort to find a solution to the national crisis,” Rajapaksa’s office said in a statement on Thursday. Two.

It added: “Considering this as a national need, it is time to work together for the benefit of all citizens and future generations.

The statement stressed that solutions to the deepening crisis should be found “within a democratic framework”, as hundreds of people are participating. spontaneous demonstrations in cities, towns and villages.

The invitation to the opposition came after 26 cabinet ministers – every member except the president’s brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa – submit a resignation letter at a late-night meeting on Sunday.

This move cleared the way for all-powerful political clan to seek to strengthen its position.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, on Monday joined the long list of resignations. “In light of the resignation of all cabinet ministers, today I have submitted my resignation as Governor,” he said on Twitter.

The Colombo Stock Exchange suspended trading twice on Monday morning due to a sharp drop in its benchmark share price index.

The heavily indebted island nation is struggling to pay for imports of fuel and other goods due to a foreign exchange crisis, which has resulted in hour-long power cuts and lack of essentials.

Widespread street protests over the economic hardship facing residents continued despite a weekend curfew and Rajapaksa announced state of emergency on Friday.

Traffic returned to the streets of the country’s main city of Colombo on Monday, but there were reports of sporadic and peaceful protests from around the country.

The island nation of 22 million people, located off the southernmost tip of India, is also grappling with soaring inflation after the government sharply devalued its currency last month ahead of talks with the International Monetary Fund over the issue. a loan program.

The country’s spending has exceeded its income under successive governments while the production of tradable goods and services has not been sufficient. The double deficits heavily exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have crippled its economic pillar, the tourism industry.

The Sri Lankan Crisis
Protesters hold banners and banners during a protest against price increases and shortages of fuel and other essential goods, in Colombo [Ishara S Kodikara/AFP]

‘Go home Gota’

Throughout Sunday, hundreds of people staged noisy but peaceful protests in towns across the island of 22 million people, denouncing Rajapaksa’s handling of the crisis.

“Go home Gota, go home Gota,” protesters shouted in Rajagiriya, near the national parliament, while in Negombo, near the international airport, people chanted, “Gota failed, failed. , failure”.

Sunday’s all-day curfew has prevented larger protests organized through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, all of which are blocked by the government.

Platforms were unlocked and internet censorship partially ended after 15 hours, as the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission ruled the ban was illegal.

Activists said they would hold larger rallies in several key towns on Monday to force the once-popular Rajapaksa and his family to resign.

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