Sri Lanka: Troops deployed due to fuel shortage protests
Fearing "unrest", Sri Lankan troops have been ordered to patrol petrol stations on Tuesday after protests erupted due to fuel shortages.
As demonstrations erupted among the thousands of motorists queuing daily for insufficient fuel, Sri Lanka dispatched the military to petrol stations on Tuesday.
Earlier, the country canceled exams for millions of school students as the country ran out of printing paper with the country's capital, Colombo, running short on dollars, thus failing to finance imports, officials confirmed Saturday.
Education authorities announced the term tests - scheduled a week from Monday - were postponed indefinitely due to an acute paper shortage as Sri Lanka contends with its worst financial crisis since independence in 1948.
Authorities reported that soldiers were deployed after irate crowds blocked the main roadway in Colombo and slowed traffic for hours on Monday because they couldn't get kerosene oil.
A Sri Lankan official told AFP that "tempers are getting frayed as queues get longer," adding that the decision to call out soldiers is to "discourage any unrest."
An incident Monday was circulated on social media depicting a group of frustrated women blocking a bus transporting tourists in order to protest a lack of kerosene, which is required for cooking stoves.
A motorcyclist was also stabbed by another driver after a fight regarding their places in line.
Three elderly individuals have died in fuel lineups since Saturday, according to police, who added that several petrol stations have seen people camping overnight to wait for diesel and gasoline sales.
The office of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa proposed on Wednesday a summit of all political parties to tackle the economic crisis, but opposition organizations warned they would boycott the conference.
Sri Lanka seeks an IMF bailout
An economic crisis brought on by a shortage of foreign exchange reserves to finance essential imports has seen the country run low on food, fuel, and pharmaceuticals.
The people of #SriLanka are suffering amid a crippling economic crisis that has been accumulating for more than a decade.#srilankacrisis pic.twitter.com/oqsMLAm1pZ— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) March 16, 2022
The South Asian country announced this week that it will seek an IMF bailout to resolve its foreign debt crisis and shore up external reserves.
The International Monetary Fund on Friday confirmed it was considering President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's Wednesday request to discuss a bailout.
Around $6.9 billion of Colombo's debt needs to be serviced this year but its foreign currency reserves stood at nearly $2.3 billion at the end of February.
Long queues have formed across the country for groceries and oil with the government instituting rolling electricity blackouts and rationing of milk powder, sugar, lentils, and rice.