Sri Lanka PM ready for talks on day 5 of protest near president's office: report

Amid the country's worst economic crisis, Sri Lanka on Tuesday said was defaulting on its external debt of around $51 billion pending a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. 
Sri Lanka protests: Air Force members stand guard in front of the Temple Trees Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's official residence during a protest, amid the country's economic crisis in Colombo. (REUTERS)
Sri Lanka protests: Air Force members stand guard in front of the Temple Trees Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's official residence during a protest, amid the country's economic crisis in Colombo. (REUTERS)
Published on Apr 13, 2022 11:08 AM IST
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By | Edited by Swati Bhasin

Sri Lanka prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is ready for a discussion with the ‘Occupy Galle Face’ demonstrators as the agitation enters the fifth day, his office was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. The protesters have been holding demonstrations near the office of president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, according to reports, as the country faces its worst-ever economic crisis, leading to a shortage of essentials. Sri Lanka has seen its largest-ever unrest in the last few weeks amid growing calls for resignation of the Rajapaksa brothers. Visuals showed protesters sitting near Gotbaya’s office on patches of grass.

Here are ten latest updates on the Sri Lanka crisis:

1, On Tuesday, Colombo said it was suspending its repayment of foreign debt, including bonds and government-to-government borrowing. The island nation was still awaiting the completion of a loan restructuring program with the International Monetary Fund, reports said.

2. “Sri Lanka has had an unblemished record of external debt service since independence in 1948. Recent events, however, including the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout from the hostilities in Ukraine, have so eroded Sri Lanka's fiscal position that continued normal servicing of external public debt obligations has become impossible,” the ministry of finance was quoted as saying.

3. The South Asian country is due to pay nearly $200 million next week, news agency AP quoted central bank governor Nandalal Weerasinghe, who stressed that it would be “impossible” to repay the debts in the current scenario.

4. Serpentine queues outside fuel stations and other places for buying essentials have made for one of the most defining visuals for the country’s current challenging times.

5. “We are embarking on an enormous program to overcome the crisis we face today. Every second spent by the president and this government is used up exhausting avenues to rebuild our country,” the prime minister was quoted as saying in an address on Monday night.

5. Forty governing coalition lawmakers have said they would no longer follow the coalition instructions, plunging the ruling party into a further crisis.

6. On Friday, 11,000 MT rice from India reached Colombo. Eldos Mathew Punnose, Central Public Information Officer, Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka told ANI: "11,000 MT rice from India reached Colombo by ship Chen Glory today ahead of New Year celebration in Sri Lanka. 16,000 MT of rice was supplied by India to Sri Lanka in the past week itself. These supplies which mark a special bond between two nations will continue."

7. The opposition has turned down calls of the president to unite. The parliament is set to reconvene on April 19.

8. The opposition has even warned of submitting a no-confidence motion against the government.

9. The economic crisis in Sri Lanka coincides with the fall of the Imran Khan government in Pakistan. He too was accused of mismanaging the economy. 

10 People have faced curfews and social media restrictions in the recent days. 

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