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HomeNewsProtests in Sri Lanka Turn Violent, Outside of President Rajapaksa's Home

Protests in Sri Lanka Turn Violent, Outside of President Rajapaksa’s Home

Outside the president’s residence, Sri Lankan police enforced a curfew and fired tear gas at protestors protesting severe food, gasoline, and electricity shortages.

On Thursday night, enraged demonstrators broke over barricades and were suspected of setting fire to a bus.

President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa condemned “extremist groups” for the incidents.

Sri Lanka is mired in a currency crisis that has damaged the country’s economy.

Public outrage has reached unprecedented heights as a result of 13-hour power outages, a scarcity of fuel, vital food items, and medications.

The demonstration outside the White House started off peacefully, but attendees said that things quickly escalated as police used tear gas, water cannons, and beat up on those who were present.

Protesters pelted police officers with stones in retaliation.

Police detained 45 individuals on Friday morning, however no charges have been filed yet.

Mr Rajapaksa, who came to office with a landslide vote in 2019, promised stability and a “strong hand” to lead the country, has seen his popularity plummet as a result of the protests.

Rank corruption and nepotism – his siblings and nephews hold numerous key cabinet roles – have been seen by critics as one of the primary causes of the country’s current predicament.

News reports that the president and his ministers are immune from the blackouts, as well as ostentatious displays of riches by family members, have only served to inflame the situation.

The administration has blamed the situation on the pandemic’s impact on tourism, which is one of the island nation’s primary sources of foreign money, as well as a series of church attacks on Easter Sunday 2019, which resulted in a significant decline in tourists.

Experts, on the other hand, claim that this issue has been building for a long time.

“This is an implosion, the culmination of decades of accumulation, and, as is customary, no one is willing to accept responsibility for it. Of course, the current administration is directly accountable for the crises’ deliberate mishandling since taking office in 2019, due to incompetence, arrogance, and, of course, corruption “According to Jayadeva Uyangoda, a political scientist and analyst,

Former Sri Lankan deputy central bank governor WA Wijewardena told the BBC that the country made a fundamental error by not integrating with the global economy after the civil war ended in 2009, when the country’s GDP grew at over 9%.

“Exports, which accounted for 33 percent of GDP in 2000, have now slumped to 12 percent and are expected to remain there,” he added.

In the short term, the government’s unwillingness to allow the Sri Lankan rupee to decline wreaked havoc on the country’s foreign reserves.

As a result, foreign reserves, which were at $7.6 billion (£5.8 billion) at the end of 2019, have now collapsed to $2.3 billion, with useable reserves falling to $300 million.

Mr Wijewardena believes things will become a lot worse before they get better since the largely import-dependent economy does not have a sustainable supply of foreign money.

Sri Lanka no longer has enough funds to buy basic necessities such as gasoline for automobiles or even to create electricity.

As a result, the country’s electrical authority has started enforcing increasingly long-duration power interruptions. Power was turned off for 13 hours on Thursday, with 16-hour outages planned in the coming days.

For millions of people, this has thrown their companies, education, and daily lives into disarray.

Long lineups have been reported outside gas stations, and people have had to wait in the heat for hours to acquire products such as cooking gas cylinders, with occasionally catastrophic effects.

Over the previous several weeks, five elderly persons have died after fainting in lines.

Food shortages and shortages of crucial medications have been reported around the country.

Brian Cooper
Brian Cooper
Brian Cooper is a global reporter for TheOptic, focusing on bringing insights and developments for global and local breaking news daily. With almost seven years of experience covering topics from all over the world, Brian strives to make sure you stay up-to-date with what's going on in the world.
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