Thousands of Sri Lankans on Saturday took the streets of Colombo at the city beachfront of Galle Face to protest outside Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s secretariat against the ongoing economic crisis for the 8th straight day. Many artistes, sportspersons were seen at the protest site in the Sri Lankan capital which has been severely affected by an acute shortage of foreign funds, leading to a food crisis, soaring prices and power cuts.

Demonstrators hold Sri Lankan national flags and shout slogans during a protest against Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, near the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo, Sri Lanka.(REUTERS)

In a surprise move, the Sri Lankan Army has vowed to uphold the Constitution and not to interfere with the ongoing anti-government protests across the island nation against the unprecedented economic crisis. The Army said it will intervene only if the police “call us to assist them.”

Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest at Galle Face, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.(REUTERS)
Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest at Galle Face, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.(REUTERS)

Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka’s securities commission announced a five-day share trading halt after the Rajapaksa government hiked interest rates and declared a default on its external debt during the traditional New Year holiday. Trade unions and well-known artists, master blaster Sanath Jayasuriya and top cricket stars including Arjuna Ranatunga and fellow ex-skipper Sanath Jayasuriya have joined protests demanding the president’s resignation.

Protests near the Presidential Secretariat, amid the country's economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka(REUTERS)
Protests near the Presidential Secretariat, amid the country’s economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka(REUTERS)

Trade unions, including thousands of health sector trade workers, joined the demonstrators laying siege to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s seafront office, demanding that he and his government quit, as they marched to the Galle Face promenade.

Trade unions join protests at Galle Face, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Trade unions join protests at Galle Face, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Protests spread wider after Colombo announced it will seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the country has run out of foreign exchange to finance even the most essential imports. Demonstrators were seen shouting slogans demanding the president and prime minister’s imprisonment. Crowds have been chanting “Gota go home, go home Gota.”

Demonstrators hold placard during protests against against Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa outside the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.(ANI)
Demonstrators hold placard during protests against against Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa outside the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.(ANI)

Sri Lanka is in the grip of one of its worst economic crises since it got independence from the United Kingdom in 1948. The island nation’s foreign currency reserves have virtually run dry, leaving its 22 million people in widespread misery, unable to afford or pay for imports of staple foods and fuel. The country has been facing regular blackouts and acute shortages of food and fuel in addition to record inflation.


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