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PoliticsSri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Cabinet resigns amid protests

April 4, 2022

Sri Lanka's cabinet ministers have resigned from their posts as an economic crisis deepens in the country. Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksahas has yet to step down, despite growing demands for his resignation.

A Sri Lankan man shouts anti-government slogans during a protest outside Sri Lankan president's private residence on the outskirts of Colombo
Sri Lankans defied curfew on Sunday to protest and demand the resignation of the presidentImage: Eranga Jayawardena/AP/picture alliance

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa called for a unity government on Monday, offering to share power with the opposition, following the mass resignation of cabinet ministers amid an ongoing economic crisis. 

Rajapaksa then accounced a new team of cabinet ministers, and named Mohamed Ali Sabry as the new finance minister of the country. Sabry previously served as the justice minister of the country.

Earlier on Monday, the president's media office in a statement said that Rajapaksa invited "all political parties representing the parliament to come together to accept ministerial portfolios in order to find solutions to this national crisis."

"Considering this a national need, the time has come to work together for the sake of all the citizens and future generations," the statement added.

Sri Lanka's central bank governor was the latest official to step down, announcing his resignation on Monday after almost all cabinet ministers resigned en masse Sunday night.

Cabinet ministers resign

"All ministers submitted their letters of resignation so that the president can constitute a new Cabinet," Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told reporters.

The resignations came as thousands of Sri Lankans defied a nationwide curfew Sunday and took to the streets to protest against the government's handling of the economic crisis.

All 26 ministers, including Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, a brother of the prime minister, Agricultural Minister Chamal Rajapaksa and Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa, stepped down.

However, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his other brother Prime Minister Mahina Rajapaksa, have held on to power.

What is driving unrest in Sri Lanka?

Thousands of people, including opposition lawmakers, took to the streets Sunday to demand the ouster of the Sri Lankan president.

Sri Lanka economy protest turns violent

Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been accused of economic mismanagement that has resulted in months of economic hardship for ordinary Sri Lankans.

With skyrocketing inflation and soaring food prices, many people in the South Asian nation are having a hard time meeting their basic needs.

A lack of foreign currency reserves has also led to fuel shortages and people living without power for several hours a day.

After protests turned violent last week, President Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency to tackle the growing political unrest.

Over the weekend, the government imposed a nationwide curfew to monitor and restrict the movement of people.

Although some protesters were arrested for taking to the streets on Saturday, protesters defied orders and continued demonstrations on Sunday. 

An earlier blackout of social media access had failed to deter protesters, as groups of Sri Lankans held up placards to echo their frustration, with many calling on the president to resign.

Ukraine war worsens Sri Lanka economic crisis

rm/rs (AP, AFP)