In the midst of a crisis, the Sri Lankan government resigns en bloc

A protest against soaring prices and shortages of fuel and other essentials, in Colombo, April 4, 2022.

The Sri Lankans partly won. The Colombo government resigned entirely on Sunday, April 3, with the exception of the two heads of the executive, the president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and the prime minister, his brother Mahinda, who are trying to stay at the helm at all costs of a sinking ship. The Head of State calls on the opposition to join a unity government. The pearl of the Indian Ocean resembles the titanic.

The island of 22 million inhabitants is experiencing an unprecedented economic and financial crisis in terms of its scale and severity. After months of shortages, power cuts and runaway inflation, Sri Lankans’ anger exploded when, for the second time, they attempted to invade on the night of March 31 to 1er April the president’s residence in the suburbs of Colombo to demand the resignation of the head of state. The police pushed back the crowd with water cannons and tear gas. About fifty people were arrested. The climate has become insurrectionary.

To halt new protests planned across the country, the government declared a state of emergency on 1er April, ordered a 36-hour curfew and gave the military sweeping powers to enforce public order and arrest and detain people without warrants. Social networks Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber and the YouTube platform were suspended on Sunday, until the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission ruled that the Ministry of Defense had no power to impose such censorship.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Sri Lanka placed in state of emergency

Despite the ban on going out, being on the public highway, in a park, on a train or by the sea, except with written authorization from the authorities, the Sri Lankans continued to protest in the streets on Sunday, as the opposition.

off-time decisions

The President of the Republic has tried to reduce these protests to a “conspiracy” warped by “extremist forces calling for an Arab spring”, but the anger of the Sri Lankans runs much deeper. The drop in tourist numbers due to the Covid-19 epidemic, the decrease in transfers of income from the diaspora during the health crisis and decisions taken completely out of time by the government, such as the reduction in VAT and the abolition of several other taxes have dried up the coffers of a State which is crumbling under an external debt of 51 billion dollars (46 billion euros).

Sri Lanka no longer has foreign exchange reserves and dollars to import the goods necessary for the functioning of the island. The country, highly dependent, lacks everything and has been living to the rhythm of shortages and power cuts since February. There is no more petrol, no more gas, no more medicines, the shelves of food stores are empty, and inflation is breaking records every month – 17.5% in February, 18.7% in March. The transport of goods and people across the country is severely disrupted.

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