Lankan prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa urges political parties to set aside differences; calls for ‘pro-people fight’ to mitigate worst eco crisis

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s beleaguered President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Sunday urged all political parties to put aside their differences and called on concerned citizens to join hands to lead a “pro-popular struggle” to amid mounting demands for the immediate resignation of his government over its failure to address the country’s worst economic crisis.
His message to the people on International Workers’ Day came a day after the island nation’s powerful Buddhist clergy warned that people would be influenced to reject all politicians if Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya’s older brother, did not resign to make way. for an interim government to resolve the political and economic crisis in the country.
“On this #International Workers Day, I once again invite all leaders of political parties in #lka to reach a consensus on behalf of the people. It is my sincere wish to call on the people to join hands in a pro- people’s struggles involving political differences,” Gotabaya tweeted.
Sri Lanka is currently in an unprecedented economic turmoil since independence from Britain in 1948. The crisis is partly caused by a lack of foreign exchange, which has prevented the country from paying for basic food and fuel imports. lead to acute shortages and very high prices.
On Thursday, nearly 1,000 unions held a nationwide one-day strike, demanding the immediate resignation of the government, including President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda.
Trade unions from a number of sectors, including public service, health, ports, electricity, education and post, joined the strike under the theme “Arch for the People – Government Home”, urging the President, the Prime Minister and the government urged to ‘go home’.
In his May Day post, Gotabaya said that instead of examining who is responsible for the current problematic situation, we should focus on what action can be taken to bring immediate relief to the public, online portal newsfirst.lk reports. .
Pointing out that the working class has faced the biggest challenges in the country in the past three years, the president said they are also the ones who are resilient to all these challenges and have made big commitments to the national economy.
“As the daily challenges they face are even more intense today, the government is taking different approaches to free the people from this situation and alleviate the oppressive nature of the situation,” he said.
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across Sri Lanka since April 9 as the government ran out of money for essential imports; the prices of essential raw materials have skyrocketed and there are acute shortages of fuel, medicines and electricity.
Gotabaya stressed that the loss of foreign exchange has caused many problems, and controlling all these factors is the way to solve the current problems.
“It is with these ambitions that I join you in celebrating International Workers’ Day which embodies the Workers’ Brotherhood, the global workforce,” the report quoted the president as saying in its message.
A senior leader of the Sri Lankan opposition party Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), Lakshman Kiriella, said on Saturday that his party will prove its majority in parliament this week on the no-confidence vote against the government led by the Rajapaksa family.
President Gotabaya has asked the opposition to show their majority by gaining the support of 113 lawmakers in the 225-member parliament to form the interim government.
“Everyone will be able to see we have a majority next week and I won’t reveal how we’re going to do from now on,” the Daily Mirror had quoted SJB MP and Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella as saying.
Sri Lanka needs at least $4 billion to overcome mounting economic woes, and talks are underway with international institutions like the World Bank and countries like China and Japan for financial aid.
Sri Lankan officials were in Washington last week to negotiate a bailout with the International Monetary Fund.
India has agreed to extend an additional $500 million credit line to help Sri Lanka import fuel.
India has already agreed to delay $1.5 billion in import payments that Sri Lanka must make to the Asian Clearing Union.

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