Sri Lanka’s prime minister resigned Monday as anti-government demonstrations over the worsening economic crisis turned violent.
“Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has sent his letter of resignation to President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa,” said Rohan Welivita, Prime Minister Rajapaksa’s media secretary.
Mahinda Rajapaksa himself also confirmed his resignation on Twitter, saying, “I have submitted my resignation as Prime Minister to the President.”
Previously, he appealed to the public to exercise restraint.
“I urge the general public to exercise restraint and remember that violence only produces violence. The economic crisis we face requires an economic solution that this administration is committed to resolving.”
The developments came hours after clashes between opposition and government supporters in Colombo, and police fired tear gas to disperse crowds in clashes.
A curfew has been imposed in the capital and other parts of the country, and the army has been asked to assist police in controlling the situation.
Sri Lanka has defaulted on all of its external debt as the island nation faces its worst economic crisis in decades that sparked massive protests.
Its foreign exchange reserves have slumped due to a drastic decline in tourism activity during the pandemic.
The government has approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help it pay for imports of food, medicine and fuel.
Many citizens are demanding that influential families in the government quit because they cannot solve economic problems. Meanwhile, President Gotabaya is the younger brother of PM Mahinda.