Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Friday agreed to remove his brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, as the prime minister, lawmaker Maithripala Sirisena said after a meeting with the president. The meeting was called by the president to discuss the formation of an all-party government, which dissenting members had refused to attend in the presence of the PM.
President Rajapaksa agreed that a national council will be appointed to select a new prime minister and Cabinet comprising all parties in Parliament, Sirisena said. Sirisena, who was the president before Rajapaksa took over, was a governing party lawmaker before defecting along with about 40 other legislators earlier this month.
Sri Lankans on Thursday participated in a general strike calling for the resignation of President Rajapaksa as the country continues to reel under its worst economic crisis. Protests, which began against the government earlier this month, intensified as workers across sectors joined the strike, leading to shutdowns and disruptions in public transport.
Here are the top developments:
🔴 Tamil Nadu Friday passed a resolution in the state Assembly urging the Centre to allow the state government to send aid to the crisis-hit Sri Lanka. The assistance would include essential commodities such as rice, pulses, dairy products and medicines, news agency ANI reported. BJP MLA Nainar Nagenthiran said, “We welcome the resolution brought by CM (M K Stalin). BJP MLAs are ready to donate our one month salary toward the Sri Lanka crisis.” The resolution was passed unanimously.
🔴 Unions in Sri Lanka from across sectors, such as state service, health, ports, electricity, education and postal, joined a nationwide strike Thursday. The protesters sought the resignation of the President and Prime Minister, under the slogan, ‘Bow to the people – government go home’.
🔴 Businesses, public transport, including train services, banking services and schools were disrupted as workers participated in the strike. Plantation workers of the tea and rubber industry, too, joined the protest, along with doctors and nurses who participated during their lunch hours. The Minister of Transport Dilum Amunugama asked the police to arrest those who harm public transport or block roads.
🔴 With a call for the formation of an all-party government, President Gotabaya has convened a meeting on Friday, inviting even the dissenting members of the ruling coalition. Vasudeva Nanayakkara, one of the party leaders, however, told reporters Thursday, “We will be going for the meeting but under one condition that it has to be without the presence of the prime minister.” Though Mahinda has refused to resign, the President’s letter to the parties on Wednesday said that an all-party government can be made after the resignation of the PM.
🔴 A delegation of the ruling coalition dissidents, representing the former President Maithripala Sirisena-led Sri Lanka Freedom Party, met the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay Thursday to brief him about the political impasse. “We met the Indian High Commissioner to brief him on the interim government arrangement,” SLFP general secretary Dayasiri Jayasekera told PTI.
🔴 Following the death of a protester who was allegedly killed in a police firing incident during an anti-government protest in the Rambukkana region last week, the Criminal Investigations Department arrested four cops in connection with the case.
🔴 Two Sri Lankan nationals were detained for entering Tamil Nadu illegally. According to police officials quoted by news agency PTI, the two men were allegedly involved in drug trafficking cases in Sri Lanka and had come to India in the wake of the economic crisis.
— with inputs from agencies