- Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa steps down amid the reeling economic crisis in Sri Lanka.
- The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has proposed an 11-point plan to set up an interim government to manage the crisis.
- The country is currently under an emergency with effect from Friday night.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa steps down amid intense pressure from within his own Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) ranks. Rajapaksa, 76, earlier said he is willing to make ‘any sacrifice’ for the people of his country. He made these remarks indicating his intent to stand down during an event at Temple Trees, which is the prime minister’s official residence. The embattled government led by Mahinda and his younger brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has been witnessing enormous pressure amidst the reeling economic crisis in the island nation, which is under a humungous external debt.
With his resignation, President Rajapaksa is expected to invite all the political parties in Parliament to form an all-party Cabinet in the crisis marred country. He resigned shortly after issuing a tweet urging the public to exercise restraint.
Sources suggest that an interim government will be formed following Mahinda’s resignation, which will then work towards overcoming the reeling financial crisis. Rajapaksa attempted to gather supporters to counterpressure his resignation. This led to clashes between government-affiliated supporters and demonstrators protesting against the incumbent Rajapaksa-led cabinet and demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya. The local police, therefore, imposed an indefinite curfew to keep law and order in check.
President Gotabay Rajapaksa, though in favour of Mahinda’s resignation, did not convey this wish directly. Sources cite that he wanted the PM to step down, paving the way for an interim national unity government to deal with the dreadful economic crisis.
A ruling coalition dissident, Dayasiri Jayasekera, had opinionated that Mahinda Rajapaksa might not directly offer a resignation. Instead, he might deny the take responsibility for the present crisis and put the ball in Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s court, leaving the final decision of sacking Mahinda.
After the Rajapaksa clan faced public wrath on Sunday, President Gotabaya said that he would take the proposals offered by the influential lawyers’ body to end the continued political and economic instability in the country into consideration. An 11-point plan has been presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), insisting on setting up an interim government which would eventually lead to the scrapping of the presidential system of governance.
Mahinda Rajapaksa was hooted and catcalled by angry protestors in the sacred city of Anuradhapura, demanding cooking gas, fuel and an end to ongoing power cuts. The enraged public wants the entire Rajapaksa family to quit politics and resort to the alleged stolen assets of the country.
The powerful Buddhist Clergy, too, had pressurised the Rajapaksa government to quit and pave the way for an interim government. Sri Lanka’s main opposition, SJB (Samagi Jana Balawegaya), revealed that they rejected Gotabaya’s offer to its leader Sajith Premadasa to head the interim government. Public protests are gaining momentum every passing day as petrol and gas queues get longer. The economic crisis fuelled by a lack of foreign currency resulted in the country’s inability to pay for staple foods and fuel imports, leading to acute shortages and surging prices.