Protesters raided Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence on Saturday, fleeing confused leaders as intensifying demonstrations over a serious economic crisis threatened to collapse the country’s government. rice field.
Sri Lanka After virtually depleting foreign exchange reserves, it has suffered one of the worst economic disasters in history, leading to a serious shortage of fuel, food and medicine and a dramatic decline in living standards.
22mn island Default of external debt repayment In May, it became the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so in 20 years.
Tens of thousands of protesters rushed to central Colombo on Saturday, asking Rajapaksa to resign. Crowds overwhelmed security forces with tear gas and water cannons and attacked the presidential residence and secretariat.
Local media reported that Rajapaksa had evacuated his residence on Friday in anticipation of anxiety. His whereabouts were unknown. A social media video showed protesters swimming in the president’s pool after occupying the building.
Saturday’s conflict was the most dramatic escalation of the demonstration since May, when clashes between pro- and opposition protesters prompted the resignation of Gotabaya’s brother Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Gotabaya Against a widespread call to resign He himself appointed a new Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and vowed to lead the country out of the crisis.
But Saturday’s protests set new lows for the president, a former military leader whose retention of power is becoming increasingly unstable. Wickremesinghe convened an emergency meeting of party leaders and called on Congress to reconvene in response to the crisis.
Sri Lanka has negotiated and launched a multi-billion dollar bailout package with the IMF Debt restructuring negotiations Creditors include private bondholders and countries such as China, Japan and India. Sri Lanka has over $ 50 billion in external debt.
The IMF team visited Colombo last month but have not yet agreed on a rescue package.
The situation in Sri Lanka, which previously enjoyed the highest standard of living in South Asia, is rapidly deteriorating. Last month, the country banned private car refueling to save energy for critical services.
While authorities are closing schools, businesses are struggling to operate due to daily power outages that last for hours at a time. Some governments have advised their citizens not to travel to the country, Catastrophic tourismOne of the most important foreign currency sources in Sri Lanka.
Rajapaksa, one of Sri Lanka’s most powerful political dynasties, was elected in 2019. Together with his brother Mahinda, who served as president from 2005 to 2015, Gotabaya is a military campaign to end the island’s brutal civil war in 2009 and crush Tamil Tiger’s rebels.