Breaking News
Investing Pro 0
NEW! Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+ Try 7 Days Free

Sri Lanka protesters vow will not let up until president, PM quit

Economy Jul 10, 2022 01:29PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators celebrate after entering into the Presidential Secretariat, after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled, amid the country's economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka July 9, 2022. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte 2/2

By Devjyot Ghoshal and Uditha Jayasinghe

COLOMBO (Reuters) -Leaders of Sri Lanka's protest movement said on Sunday they would occupy the residences of the president and prime minister until they finally quit office, the day after the two men agreed to resign leaving the country in political limbo.

Thousands of protesters stormed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's home and office and the prime minister's official residence on Saturday, as demonstrations over their inability to overcome a devastating economic crisis erupted into violence.

Rajapaksa will quit on July 13, while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also said he would step down to allow an all-party interim government to take over, according to the speaker of parliament.

"The president has to resign, the prime minister has to resign and the government has to go," playwright Ruwanthie de Chickera told a news conference at the main protest site in Colombo.

Flanked by other leaders helping coordinate the movement against the government, she said the crowds would not move out of the official residences of the president and prime minister until then.

Though calm had returned to the streets of Colombo on Sunday, throughout the day curious Sri Lankans roamed through the ransacked presidential palace. Members of the security forces, some with assault rifles, stood outside the compound but did not stop people from going in.

"I've never seen a place like this in my life," 61-year-old handkerchief seller B.M. Chandrawathi, accompanied by her daughter and grandchildren, told Reuters as she tried out a plush sofa in a first-floor bedroom.

"They enjoyed super luxury while we suffered. We were hoodwinked. I wanted my kids and grandkids to see the luxurious lifestyles they were enjoying."

Nearby, a group of young men lounged on a four-poster bed and others jostled for turns on a treadmill set up in front of large windows overlooking manicured lawns.

ECONOMIC CRISIS

The political chaos could complicate efforts to pull Sri Lanka out of its worst economic crisis in seven decades, triggered by a severe shortage of foreign currency that has stalled imports of essentials such as fuel, food and medicines.

The financial meltdown developed after the COVID-19 pandemic hammered the tourism-reliant economy and slashed remittances from overseas workers.

It has been compounded by large and growing government debt, rising oil prices and a seven-month ban on importing chemical fertilisers last year that devastated agriculture.

Petrol has been severely rationed and long lines have formed in front of shops selling cooking gas. The government has asked people to work from home and closed schools in an effort to conserve fuel. Headline inflation in the country of 22 million hit 54.6% last month, and the central bank has warned that it could rise to 70% in the coming months.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any government in power would have to "work quickly to try to identify and implement solutions that will bring back the prospect of long-term economic stability, address the Sri Lankan people's discontent, which is so powerful and palpable".

"We would urge the Sri Lankan parliament to approach this with a commitment to the betterment of the country, not any one political party," he said at a news conference in Bangkok.

India, Sri Lanka's giant neighbour which has provided support of about $3.8 billion during the crisis, said it was watching events closely.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has been in talks with the government for a possible $3 billion bailout, also said it was monitoring events closely.

"We hope for a resolution of the current situation that will allow for resumption of our dialogue on an IMF-supported programme," the global lender said in a statement.

WHERE IS PRESIDENT RAJAPAKSA?

Rajapaksa has not been seen in public since Friday has not directly said anything about resigning. Wickremesinghe's office said he would also quit, although neither he nor Rajapaksa could be contacted.

Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said on Saturday Rajapaksa's decision to step down was taken "to ensure a peaceful handover of power".

Constitutional experts say if the president and prime minister resign, the next step would be for the speaker to be appointed as acting president and for parliament to vote for a new president within 30 days to complete Rajapaksa's term.

Frustration with the economic crisis boiled over on Saturday when a huge crowd of protesters surged passed armed guards into the colonial-era presidential palace and took it over. Furniture and artefacts were smashed, and some took the opportunity to frolic in its swimming pool.

They then moved on to the president's office and the prime minister's official residence. Late in the evening, protesters set fire to the private home of Wickremesinghe.

Neither Rajapaksa nor Wickremesinghe were in their residences when the buildings were attacked.

About 45 people were brought injured into a main hospital on Saturday, a hospital official said, but there were no reports of deaths in the otherwise peaceful takeovers.

Sri Lanka protesters vow will not let up until president, PM quit
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (2)
William Smith
William Smith Jul 10, 2022 11:40PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
Now that's what insurrection looks like.
Dave Jones
Dave Jones Jul 10, 2022 1:15AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
Economic collapse and free money. The backbone of wall street! Expect stonks to soar!
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email