Lankans mount worldwide protests

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As the food and fuel crisis grows in the island nation, people have a single-point agenda — they want President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to go, a report by Rahul Kumar

The Sri Lankan diaspora has intensified its protests across the world. Expat Sri Lankans have come out to protest against their government in some of the major cities in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US as life becomes tougher back home.

As the food and fuel crisis grows in the island nation, people have a single-point agenda — they want President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to go. Many believe that the Rajapaksas, one of the most prominent and powerful families in the country, who held the positions of the president, prime minister, finance minister, irrigation minister, sports minister and other governmental posts have brought ruin upon the country due to their policies.

People have been facing hardships since last year when the prices of fuel began to go up, scheduled power cuts were announced by the government and the prices of good began inching up. However, with the government running out of foreign exchange rather quickly, the last one month has been terrible for common Sri Lankans — who eventually took to the street to express their discontentment and anger.

Within Sri Lanka, protests continue unabated with people taking over the Galle seafront. The protesters have stayed put without a break even during the night. With the government unable to find solutions to the crisis owing to an almost depleted treasury, protesters too have hardened their stand.

With President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa still holding fort, and unable to mitigate the public crisis, people are now eching the opposition’s stand — they want the entire Rajapaksa family out of politics, beginning with President Rajapaksa, whose name lends itself to the most-chanted slogan of the protests “Go home Gota”.

‘We are losing dollars’

In a special address to the nation amid the ongoing economic crisis and massive protests calling for his ouster, Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday requested people to remain patient in order to enable the government to resolve the situation.

“Every second you protest on the road, we are losing dollars,” Mahinda Rajapaksa said, adding that, “every second of the President and the government is being used to resolve this crisis”.

Rajapaksa also alleged that the protestors are insulting the Sri Lankan war heroes who fought against the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE) insurgents, asking the youths of the country to desist from the insults.

In an emotional appeal, Rajapaksa said, “We ended the war (with LTTE) not to put the people of this country into this status, we constructed highways not to keep people in queues. We built ports not to idle oil ships in our ports until we find the dollars to pay for them. We will make all efforts to overcome this crisis”.

“My family and I have received more insults than anyone, but we are seasoned with such insults. But my dear sons and daughters, please do not harass the war heroes who saved our country from terrorism,” he added.

Rajapaksa also used the occasion to reintroduce chemical fertilizer subsidies, which were revoked last year, in a disastrous attempt to make Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector 100 per cent organic.

“This was not the best time to introduce the usage of carbonic fertiliser. We have decided to re-introduce the fertiliser subsidy,” he said.

Targetting the Opposition, Rajapaksa said that “although all parties represented in Parliament were urged to come forward to resolve the current crisis in the country, no one has come forward.”

He also said that the ongoing crisis will not be resolved in a day or two and that all possible steps will be taken by the government to resolve the crisis.

“Our responsibility through a peoples’ mandate is to ensure that decisions are taken not to destroy the democratic ruling system in the country. We work towards that goal,” the Sri Lankan Prime Minister said. (India Narrative/ANI)

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