May 9, 2022 - World

Sri Lanka's prime minister offers to resign after weeks of mass protests

Mahinda Rajapaksa
Mahinda Rajapaksa on Aug. 20, 2020. Photo: Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa offered to resign Monday after weeks of widespread protests over the country's deepening economic crisis.

Driving the news: Earlier Monday, government supporters violently stormed a major protest site and attacked anti-government demonstrators in Colombo, per Reuters.

  • Armed troops were called in and a curfew was imposed.
  • Demonstrators have also demanded President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Mahinda Rajapaksa's younger brother, step down.

The big picture: Protests erupted earlier this year amid the country's worst financial crisis since independence more than 70 years ago, per Reuters.

  • The rising price of fuel has caused widespread power outages. Tax cuts, inflation and the economic strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have also led to shortages in food and other essential goods.
  • The government has imposed two states of emergency and placed other restrictions on the country in an effort to quell protests. Last month, Sri Lanka's cabinet, aside from the president and prime minister, resigned en masse
  • Sri Lanka Finance Minister Ali Sabry said last week said the country's useable foreign reserves has dropped to $50 million, per Reuters.
  • Officials have been holding talks with the International Monetary Fund for immediate and long-term relief, but any long-term plan will take months to get underway, AP notes.

What he's saying: "Effective immediately I have tendered my resignation as Prime Minister to the President," Mahinda Rajapaksa tweeted Monday.

  • Earlier Monday, he called for calm and urged protesters and government supporters to "exercise restraint & remember that violence only begets violence."
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