'There can be a bloodbath…': Sri Lankan ruling coalition MPs' warning | World News - Hindustan Times
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'There can be a bloodbath…': Sri Lankan ruling coalition MPs' warning

Apr 05, 2022 06:27 PM IST

Earlier today Sri Lanka lost its second finance minister in 48 hours - Ali Sabry resigned a day after Basil Rajapaksa, the president's brother, was removed.

A group of Sri Lanka lawmakers have backed the formation of an interim government to steer the nation out of its worst economic crisis in decades. The lawmakers - including a cabinet minister who quit Sunday and another from the ruling party - warned of 'violence' and 'anarchy', the Associated Press reported, if a majority-backed interim government is not constituted at the earliest. The lawmakers urged the parliament speaker to lead discussions with all parties to select an interim prime minister with the support of a majority of legislators.

A woman attends a protest to demand Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign after his government lost its majority. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte(REUTERS)
A woman attends a protest to demand Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign after his government lost its majority. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte(REUTERS)

"The first condition to solve this problem is that this government has to leave. In its place there should be an interim government," Wimal Weerawansa, a former cabinet member, said Tuesday.

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"We as members of the government and opposition have a responsibility. .. If not, there can be a bloodbath," Wijayadasa Rajapakshe, a ruling party lawmaker, said, and warned, "If that happens, you and all of us will be responsible."

The parliament met today for the first time since these protests began.

Their warnings come on a day the ruling coalition lost the support of over 40 lawmakers in the 225-member parliament, leaving president Gotabaya Rajapaksa's government mired in further trouble.

The president has insisted he will not step down but has offered to hand over the government to a party with 113 seats (a simple majority), a local report said.

The opposition have so far refused to play ball and dismissed Rajapaksa's offer of a 'unity government' - essentially an all-party administration - as a 'sham'.

Sajith Premadasa, the leader of largest - the SJB - said: "We must heed the voices in the streets. The government should go, starting from the president."

The SJB has 54 seats. The ruling coalition controlled nearly 150 seats before this crisis but the exit of dozens has left it relying on independent legislators.

Earlier today Sri Lanka lost its second finance minister in 48 hours - Ali Sabry resigned a day after Basil Rajapaksa, the president's brother, was removed.

Sabry was due to hold talks with the International Monetary Fund later this month to find a way out of this crisis.

READ: Finance minister quits after govt loses majority in parliament

On Monday an embattled Gotabaya Rajapaksa lost his entire cabinet - 26 ministers quit under pressure as thousands of angry people defied a curfew to protest against the government and demand the president's resignation.

So far, however neither Gotabaya Rajapaksa nor his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is the prime minister, have quit.

READ: Rajapaksa declares 'emergency', gives military sweeping powers

Discontent against the Rajapaksa family that controls the government had been simmering for days till it erupted last week with hundreds of people trying to storm the president's Colombo home.

Sri Lanka's crisis has been triggered by a mountain of debt.

It has $51 billion in foreign debts, of which $4 billion is due this year, including $1 billion in July. The country has only $2.31 billion in reserves.

Explained: Sri Lanka economic crisis and India's $2.5 billion line of credit

India has stepped in with lines of credit worth over $2 billion and fuel aid worth an additional $500 million. Sri Lanka has also approached China for assistance.

With input from AP

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Chandrashekar is a Senior Editor at Hindustan Times. A journalist with 11+ years across print and digital media, he also has degrees in Sociology and Economics. He has worked in the political, business, sports, and entertainment news spaces, but is happiest just watching football.

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