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Sri Lanka Crisis: Protesters Defy Curfew To Try To Storm Prime Minister's Residence

The protesters were demanding Rajpaksa's resignation amid the country's worst financial crisis. They pulled down barricades and chanted anti-Rajapaksa slogans.  

Representative photo of protests in Sri Lanka
Representative photo of protests in Sri Lanka AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena

Around 2,000 Sri Lankans on Monday defied the curfew to protest against the country's government and try to storm Prime Minister Mahinda Rajpaksa's residence in Tangalle. The police responded with tear gas and water cannons.

The protesters were demanding Rajpaksa's resignation amid the country's worst financial crisis. They pulled down barricades and chanted anti-Rajapaksa slogans.  

Tangalle, located 200 kilometres south of national capital Colombo, has a Sinhalese-majority population and is considered to be the bastion of the Rajapaksa family.  

According to eyewitness accounts, angry protesters managed to dodge the police and were seen running towards Rajapaksa’s gates clamouring for his resignation.  

The government's poor handling of the economic crisis where citizens currently endure long hours of power outages and scarcity of essentials has angered the public that has resulted in planned and sustained country-wide protests since Sunday. These protests have prompted the government to declare an emergency and impose a 36-hour curfew and a social media ban.  

On Sunday, anti-government protests were staged in Colombo's Independence Square in protest against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s move to impose a state of emergency and a raft of other restrictions. Protests staged by university students also erupted in the country’s Central Province on Sunday evening.  

Consequently, the current economic turmoil and unrest in the island nation has precipitated a political flux with all 26 Cabinet Ministers submitting their resignation. On Monday, Sri Lankan President fired his brother and Finance Minister Basil and invited the Opposition parties to join a unity Cabinet to tackle the raging public anger against the hardships caused due to the country’s worst economic crisis.

Incidentally, Basil had negotiated the Indian economic relief package to help Sri Lanka tackle the current foreign exchange crisis. He has been replaced by Ali Sabry, who was until Sunday night the Minister of Justice. 

Basil was scheduled to leave for the US to meet with the International Monetary Fund for a possible bailout package to get over the unprecedented economic crisis. He was at the centre of anger within the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna coalition.

Meanwhile, Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal also announced his resignation on Monday.

“In the context of all Cabinet ministers resigning, I have today submitted my resignation as Governor,” he said in a tweet.

Cabraal, 67, was blamed for his rigid stance on Sri Lanka seeking an economic bailout through an IMF structural adjustment facility.

Samagi Jana Balavegaya, the principal Opposition party on Monday termed this spate of resignations a “sham” and declined an invitation from the President to form an interim government. 

With PTI inputs

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