Sri Lankan PM Rajapaksa steps down amid violent protests over economic crisis

A lawmaker of the ruling party died in violent clashes this week

05:52 PM | 9 May, 2022
Sri Lankan PM Rajapaksa steps down amid violent protests over economic crisis
Source: @presidentrajapaksa (Instagram)

COLOMBO – Sri Lanka's premier Mahinda Rajapaksa has stepped down after violence erupted in the island nation amid weeks of protests over the economic crisis.

Reports in international media said Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has sent his resignation to the president. “I am resigning with immediate effect so that you will be able to appoint an all-party government to guide the country out of the current economic crisis,” the 76-year-old wrote in the letter.

The leader of Podujana Peramuna party decided to quit after his supporters stormed a major protest site. The violent clashes erupted in the country’s capital as supporters of the Rajapaksa family went on the rampage. An immediate curfew was imposed in Colombo which was later widened to entire nation.

A lawmaker of the ruling party succumbed amid a clash with anti-government protesters outside the capital while scores were wounded. MP Amarakeerthi Athukorala opened fire and critically wounded two people blocking his car in Nittambuwa, and was later found dead after trying to take refuge in a nearby building, per reports.

Meanwhile, a new unity government is likely to be formed to resolve the country’s worst economic crisis since independence. Key opposition party announced not to join any government led by members of Rajapaksa.

The country of nearly 22 million has suffered huge shortages of food, basic medicines, and fuel amid a horrific economic crisis that triggered anti-government demonstrations.

Last week, the Lankan government imposed a state of emergency granting armed forces sweeping powers to arrest and detain agitating people after trade unions brought the country to a virtual standstill.

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Last month, the island nation announced default on all its external debt worth around $51 billion amid the worsening economic crisis.