Embattled Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa ordered officials on Sunday to ensure the smooth distribution of cooking gas among the people after the island nation received close to 3,700 metric tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas, his office informed.
In order to force the government to address the issue of severe gas shortage, the public have been blocking roads for the last few months.
Local media reported that Rajapaksa instructed several officials to carry out the distribution of gas as the first ship arrives at Kerawalapitiya this afternoon (July 10). Another ship is expected to arrive on July 11 carrying 3,740 metric tonnes of gas while a third ship carrying 3,200 metric tonnes of gas will arrive on July 15.
Protestors set Wickremesinghe's private residence on fire
A group of protesters on Saturday entered the private residence of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and set it on fire amid a massive public protest in the country over the unprecedented economic crisis.
The incident came hours after Wickremesinghe offered to resign to make way for an all-party government, as protests intensified in the country for the resignation of the government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Protesters barge into Rajapaksa's residence
Meanwhile, a large gathering of protesters continue to occupy the president and prime minister's iconic administrative buildings which also function as official residences. The protesters were watching television in the President's house and were rolling around on the President's bed. Outside the building, barricades were overturned and a black flag was hoisted on a pole. Videos shared by state media show the protesters swimming in the pool. Videos also showed protesters storming the residence, chanting “Gota go home,” calling the president by his nickname.
Sri Lanka faces acute economic crisis
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, crippled by an acute shortage of foreign exchange that has left it struggling to pay for essential imports of fuel, and other essentials.
The country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026. Sri Lanka's total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion.