Thousands of people protested in Colombo on Saturday demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa amid unprecedented economic crisis in Sri Lanka, Al Jazeera reported.
A large number of protesters gathered in the capital’s Galle Face Green Park, chanting “paagal gota” and “go home gotta” in reference to the Sri Lankan president. Many said they were taking part in the protests for the first time.
Protesters also marched towards the President’s Secretariat, raising slogans demanding Rajapaksa’s resignation. Some of them held placards calling the Rajapaksa family “thieves” and asking them to “go home”.
On Wednesday, Rajapaksa announced a three-member advisory group to help the government in talks with the International Monetary Fund.
The government’s chief whip, Johnson Fernando, informed the country’s parliament that the president would not resign under any circumstances.
Sri Lanka is currently mired in public debt, leading to the worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948. With the country’s foreign exchange reserves depleting, Sri Lankans are facing shortage of medicines, milk powder, cooking gas, kerosene and other essential commodities.
Charini, a lawyer, said the protesters are trying to show that they are together and corruption cannot go on, Indian Express informed of. “First they have to go, then all the Rajapaksas have to go, and then the country can breathe easy,” he said.
An elderly woman said she was taking part in the protest as the future of her children was in question. Hindu informed of. “What do we have in this country to give us hope?” He asked. “That’s enough. Rajapaksa must go.”
The Rajapaksa family has dominated Sri Lankan politics for over two decades. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa are third generation politicians. The family currently holds the charge of 11 ministries.
During Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second presidential term (2010–15), apart from the cabinet, about 40 family members were said to hold government positions. Indian Express,