Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Sri Lankan cabinet reshuffled to deal with economic crisis

Colombo, Sri Lanka ( Associated Press) – Sri Lanka’s president on Monday appointed a new, 17-member cabinet, as he and his powerful family seek to resolve a political crisis resulting from the country’s dire economic situation.

The appointments come after weeks of protests over fuel and food shortages and calls for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government to resign.

The president’s older brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, survived, but a few other relatives were spared, in an effort to placate the protesters without relinquishing the family’s grip on power.

Many seniors and those facing corruption charges were kept out of the cabinet in line with the call of the youth administration.

The cabinet resigned on 3 April after protests across the country and protesters stormed and ransacked the homes of some cabinet ministers.

Thousands of protesters were occupying the entrance of the President’s office for the 10th day on Monday.

Opposition parties have rejected Rajapaksa’s invitation to form a coalition government, while he and his brothers remain in power. Meanwhile, the opposition parties have failed to secure a parliamentary majority.

Sri Lanka is on the verge of bankruptcy, with about $7 billion of foreign debt to be repaid this year out of a total of $25 billion. The acute shortage of foreign exchange means that the country is short of money to buy imported goods.

People have faced months of shortage of essentials like food, cooking gas, fuel and medicine, standing in line for hours to buy very limited stock.

Last week, the government said it was suspending repayment of foreign loans due to pending talks with the International Monetary Fund. Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Ali Sabri and officials left for talks with the IMF on Sunday. The IMF and the World Bank are holding annual meetings in Washington this week.

Sri Lanka has turned to China and India for emergency loans to buy food and fuel.

Much public anger has been directed against Rajapaksa and his elder brother, the Prime Minister. He is the head of an influential clan that has held power for more than two decades.

Nation World News Desk
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