THE CRISIS in Sri Lanka escalated yesterday as wild protests broke out on the streets over spiralling fuel and food prices, and daily blackouts while Sri Lanka’s cabinet and central bank governor quit.
The protesters defied a curfew and took to the streets demanding that the president Gotabaya Rajapaksa quits.
Across an island bubbling with anger and desperation, the chants and placards were mostly directed at one man: ‘Go Gota Go!’ ‘Go Gota Go!’ the protesters shouted – Gota being short for Gotabaya.
‘He needs to go, he’s robbed everything from us,’ said Nadhie Wandurgala who defied the country-wide curfew to protest with her husband and two daughters.
‘Even hospitals are running out of medicine, schools are running out of paper for exams, but the politicians get electricity every day.
‘They’ve never stood in long queues to get gas or kerosene.’
The protesters are demanding a change in government, in particular, targeting the ruling Rajapaksa family.
‘This government, we do not want them anymore. They have had years and years to show us that they could do change but there is nothing. The situation has just gotten worse by the day,’ said protester Anjalee Wanduragala, 22, a student at the University of Colombo.
Nadhie and Anjalee were just some of the hundreds who risked arrest to attend a demonstration, taking to the streets despite the order to stay home.
‘I came out today because my rights have been taken away. We have nothing to lose at this point.
‘Why have they even introduced this curfew ? Is it to protect us?’ Anjalee mused.
‘It doesn’t make sense at all.’
Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa yesterday dismissed his brother as finance minister in a government shakeup amid growing protests triggered by an economic crisis in the country.
Gotabaya’s brother, Basil Rajapaksa, and three other ministers were replaced after the cabinet resigned yesterday in a bid to resolve the economic crisis.
‘Four ministers were appointed to ensure parliament and other tasks can be conducted in a lawful manner until a full Cabinet can be sworn in,’ Rajapaksa’s media office said in a statement.
Rajapaksa has called on all parliamentary political parties to form a unity government to handle the nationwide crisis.
‘The president invites all political parties represented in the parliament to come together to accept ministerial portfolios in order to find solutions to this national crisis,’ his media office said.