Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence.
Sri Lanka’s ex Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family have taken shelter at a naval base as lethal protests continue amid the country’s worst ever economic crisis. Public Emergency was imposed for the second time in less than six weeks. Here are 10 key developments in the ongoing crisis in Sri Lanka:April 2021: Sri Lanka declared its worst economic downturn since Independence after its economy shrank 3.6 percent in the previous year, largely due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the lucrative tourism industry. August 2021: President Gotabaya Rajapaksa imposed a ‘food emergency’ to tackle shortages of food and stop the hoarding of sugar, rice and other essential foods. The ‘food emergency’ came at a time when banks ran out of foreign exchange reserves to finance imports.March 2022: Large-scale protests, aided by social media, erupted against the government. The protests turned violent on March 31, after some demonstrators tried to storm the President’s residence in Colombo. At least two dozen police personnel were injured in the clashes. April 1: President Rajapaksa declared Public Emergency after violent anti-government protests. In the gazette notification, he stated “public security, protection of public order and the maintenance of supplies and essential services” as reasons for the imposition. April 3: The cabinet resigned en masse from their positions. However, Mahinda Rajapaksa (the elder brother of the President) continued to be the Prime Minister. Three members of the Rajapaksa family too resigned from their cabinet positions – Basil, Chamal, and the family’s scion Namal. April 4: Central Bank of Sri Lanka Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal announced his resignation amid escalating protests. Nandalal Weerasinghe succeeded him. April 5: President Rajapaksa revoked the emergency rule ordinance, even as the government struggled to quell protests. On the same day, his ruling coalition lost its majority in parliament after over 40 MPs walked out of the alliance. April 18: President Rajapaksa expanded his cabinet by appointing 17 new members. He also expressed regret for his government’s handling of the economic crisis. “…People are under immense pressure due to this economic crisis. I deeply regret this situation,” the president was quoted as saying. May 6: Public Emergency was imposed for the second time in less than six weeks. The Presidential spokesperson said that the President invoked tough laws — giving security forces sweeping powers — to “ensure public order”. May 9: Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as the Prime Minister, just days after the President in a special meeting requested him to step down. While the President intended to form an all-party government, the Opposition rejected the idea.