Protests again in Sri Lanka

Protests again in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s cabinet has approved amendments to the constitution amid an unprecedented economic crisis. The move is aimed at limiting the president’s power in the face of protests demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The cabinet meeting on Tuesday decided to amend the constitution.

Meanwhile, protests have resumed demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya and new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Thousands of students from the country’s various universities protested in the capital, Colombo, on Monday. They claim the president and prime minister have failed to address the country’s ongoing economic crisis.

According to Al Jazeera, the students who took part in the protest said that President Gotabaya was responsible for the economic crisis in Sri Lanka. The country has never faced such an economic crisis since independence in 1947. Students have accused Ranil, who recently took over as prime minister, of failing to deliver on his promise to end the country’s ongoing crisis.

Sri Lanka is facing the worst financial crisis in seven decades due to economic mismanagement and the Kovid epidemic. It is not possible to import daily commodities like fuel, medicine and food as the foreign exchange reserves are running low. Public dissatisfaction has increased due to the continuous shortage of diesel and petrol. Incumbent President Gotabaya is blaming the royal family for the crisis. Gotabaya’s brother Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as prime minister last month in the face of protests. Earlier, two of his brothers and a nephew resigned from the ministry.

President Gotabaya, who is adamant not to resign, has acknowledged that he has not done enough to prevent the country’s economic collapse.

Amending the constitution is seen as a landmark move to reduce the power of the president. Yesterday, the cabinet approved amendments to reduce the anger of protesters. The 21st Amendment to the Constitution states that by amending the Constitution, the President’s monopoly power will be reduced, some powers will be returned to Parliament, and government commissions will enjoy independence in making important decisions.

Sri Lanka’s Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said in a tweet that the 21st Amendment had been raised and passed in the cabinet. The proposal will now be sent to the country’s parliament. Where it requires a two-thirds vote of parliament to pass.

Last April, for the first time in history, Sri Lanka declared itself in default. The government was forced to declare the country bankrupt after failing to repay the loan due to severe financial crisis. The government has since sought কোটি 3 billion in aid from donors, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to revive the fragile economy. A nine-member IMF delegation arrived in Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, yesterday. On the same day, they discussed with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe the process of formulating the 17th loan program for Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, has lowered the age limit for women workers to work abroad to cope with the economic crisis and earn more foreign exchange. From now on, 21 year old women of the country will be able to go abroad for work. Earlier, the age limit for female workers to go abroad for work was 23 years. Colombo set the age limit in 2013 for the execution of a 16-year-old female worker in Saudi Arabia.

Remittances from Sri Lankans working abroad have long been the country’s main source of foreign exchange. About ৭ 6 billion in remittances come in every year. But this year it has come down to half. With a population of 22 million, 1.7 million people work abroad. Most of this foreign income comes from the Middle East.