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Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister resigns, curfew imposed after clashes

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Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stepped down as demonstrator’s protest the country’s worst economic downturn.

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Sri Lanka’s prime minister resigned on Monday, hours after clashes with pro- and anti-government demonstrators within the industrial capital Colombo amid the country’s worst economic crisis that has spurred protests by 1000’s.

During weeks of unprecedented demonstrations, protesters across the island nation of twenty-two million people have demanded that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his elder brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, quit for mishandling the economy.

In an announcement, the prime minister’s office said the 76-year-old veteran politician had resigned.

“A couple of moments ago, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa sent his letter of resignation to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa,” the statement said.

Within the letter, a replica of which was seen by Reuters, the prime minister said he was quitting to assist form an interim, unity government.

“Multiple stakeholders have indicated the very best solution to the current crisis is the formation of an interim all-party government,” the letter said.

“Due to this fact, I even have tendered my resignation so the subsequent steps may be taken in accordance with the Structure.”

His departure got here during a day of chaos and violence which culminated in police imposing a curfew across the country.

The confrontation began with a whole lot of ruling party supporters rallying outside the prime minister’s official residence before marching to an anti-government protest site outside the presidential office.

Police had formed a line ahead of time on the most important road leading towards the location but did little to stop pro-government protesters from advancing, in response to a Reuters witness.

Pro-government supporters, some armed with iron bars, attacked anti-government demonstrators on the “Gota Go Gama” tent village that sprang up last month and have become the point of interest of nationwide protests.

Police used tear gas rounds and water cannon to interrupt up the confrontation, the primary major clash between pro-and anti-government supporters because the protests began in late March.

The Prime Minister’s resignation got here during a day of chaos and violence, which culminated in police imposing a curfew across the country.

Afp | Getty Images

A minimum of nine people were taken to Colombo’s National Hospital for treatment regarding injuries or tear-gas inhalation, a hospital official said, declining to be named.

“It is a peaceful protest,” Pasindu Senanayaka, an anti-government protestor told Reuters. “They attacked Gota Go Gama and set fire to our tents.”

“We’re helpless now, we’re begging for help,” Senanayaka said, as black smoke spiraled out of a burning tent nearby and parts of the protest camp lay in disarray.

Dozens of paramilitary troops with riot shields and helmets were deployed to maintain each groups apart after the initial clashes. The military said it had also deployed soldiers in the world.

“Strongly condemn the violent acts going down by those inciting & participating, regardless of political allegiances,” President Rajapaksa said in a tweet. “Violence won’t solve the present problems.”

Bankrupt nation

Hit hard by the pandemic, rising oil prices and tax cuts, Sri Lanka has as little as $50 million of useable foreign reserves, Finance Minister Ali Sabry said last week.

The federal government has approached the International Monetary Fund for a bailout, and can begin a virtual summit on Monday with IMF officials geared toward securing emergency assistance.

Facing escalating anti-government protests, Rajapaksa’s government last week declared a state of emergency for the second time in five weeks, but public discontent has steadily simmered.

Long queues for cooking gas in recent days have continuously become impromptu protests as frustrated consumers blocked roads. Domestic energy firms said they were running low on stocks of liquid petroleum gas mainly used for cooking.

Sri Lanka needs a minimum of 40,000 tonnes of gas every month, and the monthly import bill could be $40 million at current prices.

“We’re a bankrupt nation,” said W.H.K Wegapitiya, chairman of Laugfs Gas, one among the country’s two most important gas suppliers.

“Banks haven’t got sufficient dollars for us to open lines of credit and we cannot go to the black market. We’re struggling to maintain our businesses afloat.”

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