Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Monday, May 9, amid anti-government demonstrations triggered by the progressive deterioration of the economic crisis.
“Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has sent his letter of resignation to President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa,” said a brief statement from Rohan Welivita, the prime minister’s press secretary.
Rajapaksa confirmed his resignation on Twitter: “Effective immediately, I have tendered my resignation as Prime Minister to the President.”
Before the decision, he had urged the public to exercise restraint: “I urge our people to exercise restraint and remember that violence only breeds violence. The economic crisis we find ourselves in needs an economic solution that this administration is committed to solving.”
Hours before the resignation, opponents and supporters of the Government clashed in Colombo, the Police fired tear gas to break up the crowd. In addition, a curfew was imposed in the capital and other parts of the island nation, and the Army was called in to help the Police control the situation.
Sri Lanka has defaulted on all of its foreign debt and is facing the worst economic crisis in decades, sparking massive protests. Its foreign exchange reserves were reduced due to the drastic drop in tourist activity during the coronavirus pandemic.
The government turned to the International Monetary Fund to help pay for imports of food, medicine and fuel.
Many demanded the resignation of Mahinda and his brother, President Gotabaya, for “mishandling” the economy.
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