Sri Lanka opposition rejects unity govt, demands president resignation
The Sri Lankan opposition rejects an invitation from the country's leadership to sit at the table and formulate a unity government that puts them together with the current administration, calling on the president to step down alongside his brother.
The Sri Lankan opposition dismissed Monday President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's call to co-head a unity government with him as "nonsensical", instead, demanding his resignation over the country's economic state.
Rajapaksa's invitation of the opposition to the table came in light of the country's security apparatuses trying to mitigate anti-government protests over the deteriorating economic conditions - the country's worst economic crisis since its independence.
All 24 ministers of Sri Lanka's cabinet have resigned from their posts on Sunday, while the President and his brother the Prime Minister kept theirs after Rajapaksa declared Saturday a nationwide state of public emergency. The mass resignation was also joined by the governor of Sri Lanka's Central Bank, Ajith Cabraal, who stepped down just today.
The president made the announcement in a government gazette on Friday, citing public security, the protection of public order, and the maintenance of supplies and essential services as the reason behind the decision he took.
The Sri Lankan people are facing shortages and soaring inflation after the government devalued its currency ahead of talks with the International Monetary Fund for a loan.
Meanwhile, the authorities arrested nearly 650 people over curfew violations overnight Sunday, the Colombo Gazette reported Sunday, citing police sources.
Police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse thousands of protesters trying to storm the private home of the prime minister. Hundreds of civilians besieged the offices of the premier and the president in Colombo for several hours late Monday as the police prevented them from entering.
Ahead of the attempts to storm the officials' offices, the president asked opposition parties represented in parliament to "join the effort to seek solutions to the national crisis," after the late-night resignation of nearly all cabinet ministers to lay down the basis for a new administration.
"We will not be joining this government," Eran Wickramaratne, a member of the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) party told AFP. "The Rajapaksa family must step down," he stressed.
A lawmaker of the leftist People's Liberation Front (JVP) called the premier a "lunatic" for thinking that the opposition would help uphold the "crumbling" government.