Colombo, Apr 6 (EFE).- Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaska will not step down under any circumstances, the chief government whip told the parliament on Wednesday despite mass street protests calling for his resignation amid the ongoing crisis in the country.
The protests continued into Wednesday amid beefed up security in capital city of Colombo, a day after demonstrators surrounded the residence of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the elder brother of the president.
“As a government, we declare that the president will not resign under any circumstances. We will face this,” Chief Government Whip and Highway Minister Johnston Fernando said before the parliament.
“We are thankful to the president for imposing the curfew and state of emergency to save the lives of people.”
Protests led by the youth against the Rajapaksa government has intensified after the police on Mar.31 attacked demonstrators attempting to enter President Rajapaksa’s private residence, and arrested 53 people.
On Apr.1, Rajapaksa declared emergency, giving sweeping powers to the security forces and police.
Two days later, he also imposed a 36-hour curfew and banned social media to prevent the situation from escalating further.
However, people defied Rajapaksa’s order and continued their protests, which have now spread to most parts of the country.
Furthermore, the demand for President Rajapaksa’s resignation has steadily grown.
“We will not look back until Gotabaya resigns. He has ruined this country and the economy,” Ranjan, a 25-year old protester in Colombo, told EFE.
“His government has dragged us to the roads because we need to be in queues for hours or days to get fuel and cooking gas. We can’t stay at home at night because there is a power cut. We are unable to bear the cost of living because of this government’s bad economic policies.”
The parliamentary majority of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peremuna party appears on shaky ground after 42 legislators withdrew their support on Tuesday.
Rajapaksa lifted the unpopular Emergency Law with effect from Tuesday midnight, a move that analysts claim was to prevent possibly losing the vote on it in parliament
Under Sri Lankan law, the president needs parliamentary approval to maintain the emergency law for 30 days.
Sri Lanka is facing an unprecedented economic crisis due to supposed mismanagement of the economy under President Rajapaksa over the last two years, with excess currency printing, pegged exchange rate, and artificially low interest rates.
The questionable economic policies have resulted in severe dollar shortages, import restrictions, and insufficient availability of essentials like fuel, cooking gas, and milk powder amid an extended power cut.
Spiraling inflation resulting from the central bank’s excess money printing, and depreciation of the rupee by over 50 percent have further added to the woes of the public.
Protests started last month with people coming out in small numbers, which progressively increased over the last few weeks, and recently an anonymous group organized “Go Home Gota” campaign to oust the president.
Demonstrations were also held in front of the Embassies of Sri Lanka in different parts of the world on Sunday and Monday after Rajapaksa tried to curb the uprisings by imposing the curfew and social media ban. EFE