PM says protests hurt Sri Lankan economy rebuild

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has called on protesters to end weeks of mass protests calling on the government to step down over the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has called on protesters to end weeks of mass protests calling on the government to step down over the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

In a televised address to the nation, Rajapaksa said the government was launching a plan to rebuild the country and that “every second” protesters spend in the streets taking away opportunities to receive significant foreign currency.

Protesters, meanwhile, continued to occupy the entrance to the president’s office for a third day on Monday, demanding his resignation.

Talks with the International Monetary Fund are expected later this month, and the government has turned to China and India for emergency loans to buy food and fuel.

Mahinda Rajapaksa blamed the currency crisis on COVID-19 restrictions and the loss of critical tourism revenue.

“We are launching a huge program to overcome the crisis we are facing today. “Every second spent by the president and this government is exhausting exhausting boulevards for the reconstruction of our country,” he said.

“Friends, every second you protest in the streets, our country misses opportunities to receive potential dollars,” he said.

Much of the anger expressed by weeks of growing protests has been directed at the Rajapaksa family, who have been in power for most of the past two decades. Critics accuse the family of borrowing heavily to finance unprofitable projects, such as a port facility built with Chinese loans.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Muslim protesters broke the Ramadan fast in the area by sharing food with those around them.

Dinush Thyagaraja, a 29-year-old tourism professional, said he voted for Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the 2019 presidential election, believing he was the best candidate to restore national security after losing a friend to a suicide bomber on Easter Sunday in hotels. and churches that year. .

More than 260 people were killed in the attack carried out by local Muslim groups inspired by the Islamic State organization.

“I realize I made a mistake and I want to correct it,” Thyagaraja said. “I can not feed my family, I do not know if we will be able to enjoy a meal in another month.”

Even Mahinda Rajapaksa’s political allies have called for his replacement with an interim prime minister and a multi-party government. They say they do not want the strong Rajapaksa family in an interim government because it is at the center of public anger.

In his speech, Rajapaksa refused to hand over power, saying the ruling coalition would continue to rule Sri Lanka because opposition parties rejected a call for a unified government.

The crisis and the protests pushed many members of the Council of Ministers to resign. Four ministers have been sworn in as servants, but many of the key portfolios are vacant.

Parliament failed to reach a consensus on how to deal with the crisis as nearly 40 coalition lawmakers said they would no longer vote in accordance with the coalition’s instructions, significantly weakening the government.

With the opposition parties divided, they too failed to form a majority and take control of Parliament.

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