Sri Lankan president’s brother resigns from parliament amid crisis
Colombo, Jun 9 (EFE).- The Sri Lankan president’s brother on Thursday announced his resignation from parliament after he had already stepped down as finance minister amid the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.
“I have decided not to take part in state rule,” said Basil Rajapaksa, the first in the Rajapaksa family to vacate his seat in the Sri Lankan parliament amid mounting calls for president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his relatives to resign.
Basil Rajapaksa, who will continue his political career, said that he was stepping down to pave the way for another person to take his seat.
“I have never given any promises to the public. I do the service I can and if I can’t, I leave,” he said.
His announcement came ahead of the 21st amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution that bars dual citizens from holding parliamentary seats. Rajapaksa is a dual Sri Lanka and US citizen.
Rajapaksa’s resignation is the latest twist in a severe economic and political crisis that has gripped the island nation for months.
On Thursday, police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters demonstrating in front of police headquarters in Colombo to demand justice for peaceful protesters who have been killed and assaulted during the unrest.
Ten people were killed, and hundreds of others suffered injuries during the May 9 riots when a pro-government mob attacked peaceful protesters at a protest site dubbed GotaGoGama, but no arrests have been made.
“That attack was clearly organized by Mahinda Rajapaksa (former prime minister). He is the main character behind it. But until now, the police have failed to arrest them despite having clear evidence,” Senaka Perera, who heads Sri Lanka’s People’s Lawyers Association (PLA), said.
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from the British Empire in 1948.
For months, it has faced shortages of medicine, food and fuel, a situation that has been worsened by the lack of foreign exchange reserves to import.
This has led to months of intense political and social unrest against the Rajapaksa government, which took over the reins of the country just two years ago with promises of recovery and nationalism.
“Nothing is working in this country anymore. We are all fed up. We want the crooks to go. We want our country back. These politicians ruined our future,” a protester, Tharuka Gunarathna, said. EFE