After hundreds of protesters gathered outside the residence of Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, at least 45 people were arrested and a curfew briefly imposed in most parts of Colombo city demanding his resignation for failing to address the worst economic crisis in the island nation.
A foreign exchange crunch in Sri Lanka has led to a shortage of essential goods such as fuel, cooking gas, and power cuts that last up to 13 hours a day.
According to local media reports quoting inspector general of police, the curfew was imposed in Colombo North, South and Central, besides Nugegoda police division
Sri Lanka is witnessing its worst downturn since independence, sparked by an acute lack of foreign currency to pay for even the most essential imports. The island nation has been unable to pay for fuel shipments because of a foreign exchange shortage, and is poised to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund.
Protests outside president’s home
More than 2000 people found protesting in the Lankan capital and clashed with the police outside the home of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Police fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters trying to storm the residence of the President. Protesters are demanding the resignation of President Rajapaksa.
“Lunatic go home”
Videos shared on social media showed that men and women shouting “lunatic, lunatic go home” and demanding that all members of the powerful Rajapaksa family to step down of the power. The president’s elder brother Mahinda serves as prime minister while the youngest,
Basil holds the finance portfolio. The eldest brother Chamal is Agriculture Minister while nephew Namal holds the cabinet post for sports which officially makes the dynasty rule.
Ran Out of Diesel
Diesel was no longer available on sale across Sri Lanka on Thursday, crippling transport as the suffering country’s 22 million people endure record-long power blackouts. Petrol was on sale but in short supply, forcing motorists to abandon their cars in long queues.
Fuel shortage disturbs bus services
Diesel shortages had sparked outrage across Sri Lanka in recent days, but the protests had so far been in towns and not aimed at any top leader, before Thursday’s events. “We are siphoning off fuel from buses that are in the garage for repairs and using that diesel to operate serviceable vehicles,”
Transport Minister Dilum Amunugama said. Owners of private buses, which covers two-thirds of the country’s fleet said that they were already out of oil and that even skeleton services might not be possible after Friday.
Scarcity for electricity
Sri Lanka is turning off street lights to save electricity, a minister said on Thursday. The state electricity monopoly also enforced a 13-hour power cut as they did not have diesel for generators.
“We have already instructed officials to shut off street lights around the country to help conserve power,” Power Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told reporters. A diesel shipment under a $500 million credit line from neighbouring India is expected to arrive on Saturday, Wanniarachchi said, but she warned that the situation was not likely to improve any time soon.
“Once that arrives, we will be able to reduce load shedding hours but until we receive rain, probably sometime in May, power cuts will have to continue,” Wanniarachchi told reporters, referring to the rolling power cuts. “There’s nothing else we can do.”
Published By : VATSAL KOTHA
Edited By : KRITIKA KASHYAP