Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa refuses to resign while the opposition refuses to accept his offer of a united government.
“I will give the opportunity for the new government and new PM to start a new program to take the country forward,” he said in a televised address. He also added that once stability is assured, he will discuss his executive powers.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa had earlier prolonged a countrywide curfew till Thursday morning after government supporters attacked protesters camped up in downtown Colombo for weeks calling for his removal. Mr. Rajapaksa’s opponents then stormed and burned down some of the ruling party’s parliamentarians’ homes, forcing crucial family members to flee.
His brother Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as prime minister, resulting in the dissolution of the cabinet and the absence of a government to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund and creditors over the $8.6 billion debt due this year. A deal is required to help the administration stabilize the country’s finances and provide basic supplies to the island nation’s 22 million residents.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa refuses to resign, and the opposition has turned down his offers of a unity government in exchange for constitutional changes that would limit the president’s authority.
“He needs to give the country a timeframe on what will happen,” Jehan Perera, executive director at the National Peace Council in Colombo, said of the president. “This is one way he can redeem himself as a statesman before things get worse.”
Mr. Rajapaksa has given the military powers under the emergency to hold people without a warrant for 24 hours and examine their private property.
As Sri Lanka further plunges into chaos, its economic crisis worsens. The International Monetary Fund has not yet passed a decision regarding Sri Lanka’s request for a bailout.