41 Sri Lankan lawmakers walked out ruling coalition

41 Sri Lankan lawmakers walked out ruling coalition

International Deskdaily-bangladesh.com

Published: 16:48 5 April 2022  

41 Sri Lankan lawmakers walked out ruling coalition

41 Sri Lankan lawmakers walked out ruling coalition

At least 41 Sri Lankan lawmakers walked out of the ruling coalition on Tuesday, leaving the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a minority in parliament as it struggles with the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

In another setback for the administration, Finance Minister Ali Sabry resigned a day after his appointment and ahead of crucial talks scheduled with the International Monetary Fund for a loan program.

Rajapaksa dissolved his cabinet on Monday and sought to form a unity government as public unrest surged over the ruling family’s handling of the debt-heavy economy that has led to shortages of food, fuel and medicines and prolonged power cuts.

Possible next steps could be the appointment of a new prime minister replacing the president’s elder brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, or snap parliamentary elections much ahead of a scheduled vote in 2025.

There was no immediate indication what was being planned.

Sabry said in his resignation letter he believed he had “acted in the best interests of the country.”

“At this crucial juncture the country needs stability to weather the current financial crisis and difficulties,” he said in the letter seen by Reuters.

Street demonstrations against the shortages, triggered by a lack of foreign exchange for imports, began last month but have intensified in recent days, leading to clashes between protesters and police in some instances.

Names of the 41 lawmakers to leave the coalition were announced by party leaders in parliament.

They have now become independent members, leaving Rajapaksa’s government with fewer than the 113 members needed to maintain a majority in the 225-member house.

There has been no vote count yet, although Rajapaksa’s minority government could find decision-making more challenging. Independent parliamentarians, however, could continue to support government proposals in the house.

“There are endless shortages of essentials including fuel and cooking gas. Hospitals are on the verge of closing because there are no medicines,” Maithripala Sirisena, leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party that withdrew its support for Rajapaksa’s coalition, told parliament.

“At such a time our party is on the side of the people.”

DailyBangladesh/SA