Mass protests prompt Sri Lankan cabinet to resign

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Wednesday, April 6, 2022

File:President Gotabaya Rajapaksa official photograph.jpg

Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2020
Image: Sneharashmini.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

On Monday, the Sri Lankan 26-minister cabinet resigned except for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as the government faced backlash from the public over the ongoing economic crisis.

Earlier, the President requested all political parties unite to form a national unity government. The proposal was rejected by two political parties, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and Janatha Vinukthi Peramuna (JVP) who wanted the president to resign.

After the Cabinet resigned, the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Ajith Nivard Cabraal also announced his resignation.

The economic crisis drove the government to block imports in March 2020 in an attempt to preserve its foreign exchange reserves. Sri Lanka had only about USD2 billion in reserve as of February, down 70% in the last two years. Sri Lanka needed USD7 billion to finance its USD51 billion debt this year.

In the last few weeks, the country has seen an acute shortage of fuel, particularly diesel, leading to protests and empty fuel stations.

In March, the Sri Lankan inflation rate reached 18.7% and food prices rose by 30.1%. Its currency, the rupee, has lost 30% of its value against the US dollar since it was devalued last month ahead of talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout.