BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI, Associated Press
Colombo, Sri Lanka (AP) —The President of Sri Lanka appointed 17 new cabinet ministers on Monday as he and his powerful family are trying to resolve the political crisis caused by the country’s dire economic conditions. ..
The appointment demands that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government resign, following weeks of protests against fuel and food shortages.
The president’s brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, remains, but other relatives have been dropped for being seen as an attempt to subdue protesters without abandoning family power.
While the Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs remains in a position to support economic recovery, many older people and those facing allegations of corruption have been excluded from the cabinet at the request of the youth administration.
World leader caricatures
President Rajapaksa spoke with the new minister and called for support for an efficient and clean government.
“Today, most government agencies face serious financial difficulties, and it is imperative to remedy them,” Rajapaksa called the crisis “an opportunity to bring about the system changes people expected.”
The cabinet resigned on April 3, after protests broke out nationwide and demonstrators attacked and destroyed some ministerial homes.
Thousands of protesters occupied the entrance to Cheong Wa Dae for 10 days on Monday.
Opposition rejected Rajapaksa’s invitation to form a unified coalition government while Rajapaksa and his brother remained in power. On the other hand, the opposition failed to win a majority in parliament.
Sri Lanka is on the verge of bankruptcy, with nearly $ 7 billion of its total external debt of $ 25 billion expected to be repaid this year. A serious foreign exchange shortage means that the country lacks the funds to buy imported goods.
People endure months of shortages of essentials such as food, cooking gas, fuel and medicine, and are lined up for hours to buy the very limited inventory available.
The government announced last week that it would stop repayment of its external debt while waiting for talks with the International Monetary Fund. Sri Lanka’s Treasury Minister Ali Saburi and officials set out for a meeting with the IMF on Sunday. The IMF and the World Bank are holding an annual meeting in Washington this week.
Sri Lanka is seeking emergency loans from China and India to buy food and fuel.
The wrath of many people was directed at Rajapaksa and his brother’s prime minister. They lead an influential clan that has been in power for most of the last two decades.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press.. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.