“Took all possible measures to deal with the crisis”: Rajapaksa from Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s ousted president, who fled abroad this week to escape a popular uprising against his government, said he had taken ‘all possible measures’ to avert the economic crisis that has engulfed the island nation .
Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation was accepted by parliament on Friday. He flew to the Maldives and then Singapore after hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Colombo a week ago and occupied his official residence and offices.
Sri Lanka’s parliament convened on Saturday to begin the process of electing a new president, and a shipment of fuel arrived to relieve the country in crisis.
Dhammika Dasanayake, chief secretary of the Sri Lankan parliament, officially read Rajapaksa’s resignation letter, the contents of which had not previously been made public.
In the letter, Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka’s financial crisis was rooted in years of economic mismanagement that preceded his presidency and the COVID-19 pandemic which drastically reduced tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka and outflows. funds from foreign workers.
“I personally believe that I have taken all possible measures to address this crisis, including calling on parliamentarians to form a multi-party or unity government,” the letter said.
Parliament will then meet on Tuesday to accept nominations for the post of president. A vote to appoint the country’s leader is due to take place on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, an ally of Rajapaksa and his party’s sole representative in parliament, has so far been sworn in as interim president.
Wickremesinghe is a leading contender to take on the full-time role, but protesters also want him gone, raising the prospect of further unrest if he is elected.
The opposition presidential candidate is Sajith Premadasa. The potential dark horse is the ruling party’s chief lawmaker, Dullas Alahapperuma.
Emergency Relief Program
Wickremesinghe said on Saturday he would implement an emergency relief program to provide fuel, gas and essential food items to struggling Sri Lankans due to the economic situation. He also promised to engage in a dialogue with protesters on reducing government corruption.
Sri Lanka’s economy is expected to contract by more than 6% this year as political instability and social unrest affect financial relief talks with the IMF, the country’s central bank governor has told Wall Street. Log.
More than 100 police and security personnel equipped with assault rifles were deployed on the access road to parliament on Saturday, manning barricades and a water cannon to prevent any disturbance. Columns of security forces patrolled another access road to parliament, although there were no signs of protesters.
Street protests against Sri Lanka’s economic collapse simmered for months before boiling over on July 9, with protesters accusing the Rajapaksa family and their allies of rampant inflation, commodity shortages and corruption.
The Rajapaksa family has dominated politics in Sri Lanka for years and Basil Rajapaska, brother of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, resigned as finance minister in April as street protests increased and quit his seat in parliament in June.
Multi-day fuel queues have become the norm in the island nation of 22 million, while foreign exchange reserves have fallen to near zero and headline inflation hit 54.6% on last month.
Sri Lanka received the first of three fuel shipments on Saturday, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said. These are the first shipments to reach the country for about three weeks.
A second diesel shipment will also arrive on Saturday, with a gasoline shipment expected on Tuesday.
“Payments made for all 3,” the minister said in a tweet.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)