Highlights

  • PM Mahinda Rajapaksa addresses people of Sri Lanka
  • The island nation is reeling under the worst economic crisis in decades
  • Popular demands for the Rajapaksa family being made in Sri Lanka

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Rajapaksa explains why Sri Lanka ran out of money

Sri Lanka’s embattled Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday said that his government was confident of overcoming the unprecedented economic crisis

Sri Lanka’s embattled Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday said that his government was confident of overcoming the unprecedented economic crisis in the same way it crushed the LTTE over a decade ago.

In a televised address to the nation, Mahinda, who is under growing pressure to quit due to the worst economic crisis facing the island nation, said that he understands the people’s sufferings.

“We have to strengthen the economy. We will take the responsibility to resolve the economic issue in the same way we ended the 30-year war,” the prime minister said, referring to his military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009.

The LTTE, which led a separatist war for a separate Tamil homeland, was crushed by the Lankan military in 2009 with the death its supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Mahinda, the elder brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said that the government is working round-the-clock to overcome the economic crisis.

In his first public appearance since countrywide protests began demanding the resignation of his younger brother President Gotabaya and the entire Rakapaksa family, he appealed to the protesters to end their anti-government agitation and said that every minute spent on streets deprives the country of dollar inflow.

“The government is spending every second of the day to resolve this problem. My family is being slandered, we can tolerate it,” Mahinda said.

He said the protesters were demanding to send home the entire 225 parliamentarians.

“It will be dangerous to reject Parliament,” he said.
In a bid to blame the Opposition Janatha Vikmuthi Peramuna (JVP) party for the protests, Mahinda recalled the JVP rebellions in the 70s and 80s.

He said that his government had built roads, ports and infrastructure not to keep the people on the streets protesting.

His speech came as a flurry of political activities took place to end the economic crisis and the political impasse.

While another day was passed without appointing the Cabinet, the differences of opinion among the political groups came to light on the proposed no-confidence motion against the government.

The group which declared independence from the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) coalition announced that they would not be supporting the No-Confidence Motion (NCM).

“We do not see how the passing of the NCM would help. Even if it is to be won, how could a government be formed,” senior legislator Vasudeva Nanayakkara said.

The main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) said that they have begun the process to move an NCM against the government on its mishandling of the economy.

The address of the prime minister came hours after Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa alleged that poor economic policies of the government had contributed to the country’s economic downturn.

He said the cost of living in the country is going from bad to worse due to the price increase of essential food items including medicine, milk powder, rice, sugar, dhal, wheat flour and items such as gas, diesel, kerosene oil and petrol.

The Opposition Leader said that people gave ample time to President Rajapaksa to fulfil their requirements, especially by reducing the increasing cost of living but neither the President nor his Cabinet ministers were able to fulfil their demands.

The anti-government protests, which started on Saturday, continued to its third day on Monday.

ALSO WATCH: Sri Lanka in turmoil: All 26 cabinet ministers resign

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