New Delhi, Mar 23 (EFE).- Thousands of people took to the streets in Sri Lanka Wednesday to protest against a raging economic crisis that has caused prices to skyrocket and shortages of fuel and key commodities.
Amid tension over the scarcity of essential commodities, including food and medicine, the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Wednesday called an all-party meeting for a consensus to address the crisis.
Rajapaksa, several leaders of the ruling combine, and from the opposition, like former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, attended the meeting in Colombo.
Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) alleged that the government had failed the nation with its economic policy.
“The government’s economic policies during the last two years have seen a reversal of the free-market economy,” the UNP said in a statement before the meeting.
“The country is faced with two immediate tasks: dealing with our foreign exchange deficit and rescheduling our foreign debt,” the opposition party said.
The opposition has rejected Rajapaksa’s bid for a political solution to the economic crisis.
The government has ensured credits from neighboring India and is seeking help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to restructure its debt.
The leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Party (JVP), which boycotted the meeting, along with the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) alliance of opposition parties, organized a protest in Colombo.
The organizers hoped that 20,000 people were expected for the demonstrations.
They said the protest was against the government for rising food prices, shortage of fuel other key commodities.
“We have to increase our domestic industrial production, and we must eradicate corruption,” JVP spokesperson Vijitha Herath told EFE.
The leftist parties demanded the resignation of the Rajapaksa government so that “people can find an alternative.”
Last week, the SJB organized a massive protest against the Sri Lankan president on the same day that Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, the president’s brother, visited New Delhi for more financial aid.
Sri Lanka has been mired in severe fuel shortages for several months due to the deep economic crisis in the country.
Inflation has crossed record levels, forcing some families to sacrifice meals due to food shortages and rising prices.
The authorities have deployed the army at gas stations to restore order amid long queues of people waiting to have their tanks filled.
Sri Lanka has signed an agreement with India to receive an urgent credit worth $500 million.
The two neighbors signed a credit line of $1 billion to purchase essential goods. EFE