Mahinda Rajapaksa appeals to protesters, says every minute spent on streets deprives Sri Lanka of dollars

Sri Lanka PM Mahinda Rajapaksa appealed to the protesters to end their agitation and said every minute spent on the streets deprives the country of dollars, that it needs to overcome the economic crisis.

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. (Photo: AP)

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday appealed to citizens to stop protests against the government over rising fuel and food prices.

In an address to the nation, PM Rajapaksa called for patience and support and said, “The government is working round-the-clock to overcome the economic crisis.”

He also appealed to the protesters to end their anti-government agitation and said that every minute spent on streets deprives the country of dollar inflow.

READ | Refugees, inflation and power cuts: How Sri Lanka walked itself into a mess

The anti-government protests, which started on Saturday, continued on Monday after the revocation of the emergency and curfew.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence. As protests intensified, ministers resigned en masse, leaving President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in a spot of bother. And on April 5, the ruling party lost its majority in Parliament.

It all started in February when Sri Lanka’s foreign currency reserves fell to $2.31 billion. This stalled its imports, leading to an acute shortage of several essential items. The government authorities also declared an emergency health situation because of the severe drug shortage in the country.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has defended his government’s actions, saying the foreign exchange crisis was not his making and the economic downturn was largely pandemic driven with the island nation’s tourism revenue and inward remittances waning.

Also, efforts to establish an all-party interim government remained inconclusive as the talks between President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the group of independent MPs from his own ruling coalition failed to make progress.

(With input from agencies)