Sri Lanka economic crisis latest updates: Sri Lanka is currently facing its worst ever economic crisis in history. The island country went under a nationwide curfew from Saturday night until Monday morning after Rajapaksa assumed emergency powers at midnight Friday. Opposition lawmakers in Sri Lanka on Sunday marched in the capital, Colombo, defying the president's move to impose a nationwide curfew and state of emergency after protests blaming the government for an economic crisis swelled.
Here are 10 key developments to note about Lanka's crisis:
- #GoHomeRajapaksas, #GotaGoHome trending: The hashtags were trending on Twitter and Facebook, as internet users have been using social media to organize protests calling for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign, saying he is responsible for the country’s deepening economic woes.
- Social media blocked, then restored: Internet users were unable to access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp and other social media platforms on Sunday. The ban has been lifted after 15 hours, officials said.
- Arrests over violation of curfew: Over 6oo people were arrested in Sri Lanka’s Western Province on Sunday for violating a 36-hour nationwide curfew and trying to stage an anti-government rally to protest the country’s worst economic crisis.
- Opposition's protests: Opposition lawmakers, led by their leader Sajith Premadasa, had set off on a march towards the iconic Independence Square in Colombo, defying a weekend curfew imposed by the government on Saturday, ahead of the planned protest for Sunday.
- Armed soldiers and police officers set up barricades on the road leading to the square, which was built to commemorate the country's independence from Britain in 1948.
- Air India reduces flights to Lanka: Air India on Sunday said it will reduce its India-Sri Lanka services from 16 flights per week currently to 13 flights per week from April 9 due to poor demand.
- India's fuel aid helped reduce power cuts from 13 hrs to 2: A consignment of 40,000 metric tonnes of diesel from India reached Sri Lanka on Saturday, the fourth such assistance from New Delhi, to mitigate the spike in power cuts in the island nation, which is facing an unprecedented economic and energy crisis caused due to shortage of foreign exchange. Power cuts that earlier lasted 13 hours were cut down to 2 in some provinces, reports suggested.
- Sri Lanka faces huge debt obligations and dwindling foreign reserves, and its struggle to pay for imports has caused a lack of basic supplies. People wait in long lines for gas, and power is cut for several hours daily because there’s not enough fuel to operate power plants and dry weather has sapped hydropower capacity.
- The island nation’s economic woes are blamed on a failure of successive governments to diversify exports, instead relying on traditional cash sources like tea, garments and tourism, and on a culture of consuming imported goods.
- The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a heavy blow to the economy with the government estimating a loss of $14 billion in the last two years. Protesters also point to mismanagement — Sri Lanka has immense foreign debt after borrowing heavily on projects that don’t earn money. Its foreign debt repayment obligations are around $7 billion for this year alone.
(with PTI, AP, ANI inputs)
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