COLOMBA – On Tuesday, the ruling Sri Lankan party won a demand in parliament to urgently discuss a proposal condemning President Gotaboy Rajapaksa for the worst economic crisis in the country, which, according to the Prime Minister, left enough gasoline for just one day.
It is unclear when this proposal will be repeated.
The law does not require Rajapaksa to leave, but his refusal to do so has already devastated Sri Lanka, which is on the verge of bankruptcy, as it is negotiating economic rescue with other countries and institutions to be able to import basic materials, medicines and fuels. .
MA Sumantiran, a lawmaker from the opposition Tamil National Alliance, suggested that parliament bypass the usual procedure of urgent consideration of a lawsuit against Rajapaksa. But the ruling party won the proposal by 119 votes to 68.
Protesters have been occupying the president’s office for more than a month, calling for Rajapaksa’s resignation. Months of anti-government rallies have nearly dismantled a once powerful ruling family: one of the president’s brothers has stepped down as prime minister, while other siblings and nephews have left their posts in the cabinet.
Protesters accuse Rajapaksa of causing a crisis through corruption and mismanagement.
On Monday evening, the new Prime Minister Ranil Vikremesinghe offered a grim assessment of the difficult situation in the country. He said about $ 75 billion is urgently needed to provide the nation with basic necessities, but the country’s treasury is struggling to find even $ 1 billion.
“At the moment we have gasoline stocks for only one day,” he said in a televised speech.
“The coming months will be the hardest in our lives,” he said. “I have no desire to hide the truth and lie to the public. Although these facts are unpleasant and horrible, this is a real situation. which we have passed ”.
Attacks on peaceful protesters last week sparked violence across the country, killing nine people, including a lawmaker, and injuring more than 200. Many houses of deputies and their supporters were burned.
The petition accuses Rajapaksa, nicknamed Gotha, of being responsible for the economic crisis by imposing untimely tax cuts and banning the use of chemical fertilizers, which led to crop failures. It also says the president used the COVID-19 pandemic to militarize and mismanaged it by promoting unscientific solutions and making unprofitable vaccine deals.
“People have been standing on the road for almost 40 days and saying, ‘Go home,’ but those who call themselves elected officials who come and sit here are deaf,” Sumantiran said after the vote.
“They can’t even agree to bring up the issue that people have been shouting about from the streets.”
Opposition MP Vijayadas Rajapaksha, who has nothing to do with the president, said that according to parliamentary rules, the proposal could be adopted at any time after Thursday.
Sri Lanka has suspended payments of about $ 7 billion in foreign loans to be repaid this year with $ 25 billion to be repaid by 2026. The country’s total foreign debt is $ 51 billion. The finance ministry says the country currently has only $ 25 million in useful foreign reserves.
The foreign exchange deficit sharply limited imports, resulting in long queues for milk, fuel, gas and medicine.
Wickremesinghe said Monday that the shortage of diesel fuel will be addressed to some extent by supplies from India.
“For more than 40 days, three ships with crude oil and fuel oil have been anchored in the Sri Lankan sea area. We are working to get dollars on the open market to pay for these supplies,” he said.
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