Sri Lanka cabinet ministers resign as protests erupt over fuel scarcity and economic hardship

As protests over fuel scarcity and economic hardship flare in Sri Lanka, a number of cabinet officials and the central bank governor have resigned.

Shops have been forced to close for weeks due to a lack of power to run refrigerators, air conditioners, or fans.

Soldiers are stationed at gas stations to keep consumers calm as they queue for hours in the heat to fill their tanks. Some people have even died as a result of their impatience.

The public’s patience has been challenged by long queues at supermarkets, gas stations, and pharmacies. To make matters worse, there have been power outages lasting many hours.

This sparked originally calm protests, with locals asking for the president’s resignation.

Sri Lanka cabinet ministers resign as protests erupt over fuel scarcity and economic hardship

But on Thursday  March 31, the protests became violent, with demonstrators hurling bricks and setting fires outside the residence of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

In response, the government on Friday, April 1, declared a state of emergency, imposing a curfew in parts of the city and blocking social media platforms nationwide.

However, protests went ahead on Sunday, April 3, in defiance of the curfew, and continued into Monday, with videos across social media showing crowds in the capital.

Sri Lanka cabinet ministers resign as protests erupt over fuel scarcity and economic hardship

Now, a number of ministers have handed in their resignation.

On Monday, April 4, the governor of the Central Bank, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, became the latest major figure to submit his resignation, following a wave that started over the weekend.

On Sunday evening, Minister of Youth and Sports Namal Rajapaksa, who is also the President’s nephew, announced on Twitter that he had informed the presidential office of his resignation “with immediate effect.”

He said he hoped this would help the administration “establish stability,” and that he remained “committed to my voters, my party and the people of Hambantota,” where he is a lawmaker.

He also criticized an apparent social media blackout, saying he would “never condone” such a move and urging authorities to “reconsider”.

Education Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told local media late on Sunday that he and other ministers had “handed our letters of resignation to the prime minister.”

“The president and the prime minister will discuss and take relevant decisions,” he said, without clarifying how many ministers had offered to quit.

The Minister of Justice has also resigned, with several other cabinet ministers signaling their intention to follow suit.

In a statement released by the presidential media team on Monday, President Rajapaksa didn’t directly address the resignations, only urging all parties to “work together for the sake of all the citizens and future generations.”

“The current crisis is a result of several economic factors and global developments,” the statement read. “As one of the leading democratic countries in Asia, solutions should be found to this within a democratic framework.”

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