Sri Lanka sees most violent day in recent weeks; PM quits, MP dies: 10 points
Sri Lanka crisis: The opposition has blamed the Rajpaksas - the country's most powerful political family - for plunging Sri Lanka into crisis.
Sri Lanka saw its most violent day in recent weeks as prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa quit from his post on Monday and clashes - far and wide - claimed at least five lives and left over 200 injured. Lawmaker Amarakeerthi Athukorala of the ruling party shot dead a 27-year-old man and then took his own life, reports said, as the country remained tense amid an economic crisis taking it down the spiral. The Rajapaksas have been the South Asian nation’s most powerful political family for decades but the current economic challenges have turned into a political quagmire for them. There have also been calls for president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to step down. A nationwide curfew has been called till Wednesday while the army has been deployed in the capital city of Colombo.
Here are ten points on the Sri Lanka crisis:
1. “Effective immediately I have tendered my resignation as Prime Minister to the President (sic),” Mahinda Rajapaksa tweeted on Monday in an announcement that paves way for the formation of a united government. “While emotions are running high in #lka, I urge our general public to exercise restraint & remember that violence only begets violence. The economic crisis we're in needs an economic solution which this administration is committed to resolving,” he wrote in another post.
2. Scenes of chaos emerged as supporters of the Rajapaksas stepped out for demonstrations and violence enveloped the streets. Protesters who have camped out in downtown Colombo for weeks to demand the resignation of Rajpaksa brothers were also reportedly targeted.
3. The country has been struggling to meet the basic needs of the people. Imports of everything from milk to fuel have plunged, spawning dire food shortages and rolling power cuts are only some aspects of the escalating crisis.
4. “Closely monitoring the situation in Sri Lanka. We're deeply concerned by the violence against peaceful protesters & innocent bystanders are urging all Sri Lankans to focus on finding and enabling long-term solutions to the country’s economic & political challenges (sic),” the US Department of States said in a tweet.
5. The ancestral home of the Rajapaksa family in the southern district of Hambantota was set on fire while local reports said demonstrators also tried to storm the prime minister’s residence in Colombo’s Temple Trees neighborhood.
6. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who once blamed international factors for the crisis, is said to be more isolated amid the fast developments.
7. The president issued a statement inviting all parties in parliament to join together in a united national government to get through the crisis
8. Sri Lanka has billions in debt and prices of everyday essentials have been soaring, making it difficult for the people to meet their basic needs.
9. Leader of opposition Sajith Premadasa in a tweet said: "We are very capable of defending ourselves against state sponsored violence but we must not forget we are also capable of compassion.The future generations are watching how we choose to express our anger. Non-violence is the only true and acceptable path.”
10. Sri Lankan stocks have been one of the worst performers in the world this year, according to a Bloomberg report.
(With inputs from Reuters, AP, Bloomberg)