Sri Lanka parliament reconvenes today amid crisis, speculation over trust vote
Sri Lanka has faced unprecedented protests over the last few weeks amid economic challenges and a political uncertainity.
As protesters continue to demonstrate anger amid dire economic challenges, Sri Lanka’s parliament is expected to reconvene on Tuesday amid speculation over a no trust vote. On Monday, president Gotabaya Rajapaksa admitted that patience among the citizens was wearing thin, and that it was justified.
“During the last two and a half years we have had vast challenges. The pandemic, as well as the debt burden, and some mistakes on our part. They need to be rectified. We have to correct them and move forward. We need to regain the trust of the people,” the president was quoted as saying in reports.
“Today, people are under immense pressure due to this economic crisis. I deeply regret this situation," he stressed, underling that anger among people - forced to wait in long lines to get essential items at high prices - was not misplaced.
Sri Lanka - which has over 25 billion dollars in foreign debt - is battling its worst crisis in decades. People have been struggling to get supplies of essentials and long queues outside fuelling refilling stations have been common.
On Monday, a new cabinet was sworn in ahead of key talks with the IMF. In a speech to his new cabinet, Rajapaksa said the country should have sought help from the world body sooner - as urged by opposition parties and experts. "I believe that we should have gone for a programme with the International Monetary Fund earlier," he was quoted as saying in a statement by his office cited by Reuters.
Almost all of the members of the cabinet had resigned earlier this month amid criticism of the government. There have also been demands for the president and his brother, prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, to resign.
The pandemic had hit key sectors in the country, including the tourism industry, which propels the country’s economy. Critics have said the government dragged its feet in approaching the IMF.
Meanwhile, Kristalina Georgieva, IMF chief on Monday appreciated India's help to Sri Lanka in tackling its economic crises while assuring Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman that the financial institution would continue to actively engage with the island nation.
The country of 22 million faces an uncertain future as the government tries to brace political challenges. Earlier this month, the opposition had said it would proceed for a no confidence motion against the government if there was no remedy to grievances of masses.
(With inputs from Reuters, ANI)