Sri Lanka is experiencing its worst downturn since independence, as a result of an acute shortage of foreign currency to pay off even the most important imports. Unable to pay for fuel shipments due to a shortage of foreign exchange, the island nation is preparing to request assistance from the International Monetary Fund.
Here are five key points about the economic crisis in Sri Lanka:
Protests outside the president’s house
More than 2,000 people staged a protest march in the capital, Lanka, and clashed with police outside the home of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Police fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters who tried to storm the president’s home. Demonstrators are demanding the resignation of President Rajapaksa.
“crazy coming home”
Videos circulating on social media showed men and women chanting “Go home you madman” and calling on all members of the powerful Rajapaksa family to step down.
Mahinda, the president’s older brother, holds the position of prime minister while the younger – Basil – holds the finance portfolio. Older brother Jamal is the Minister of Agriculture while his nephew Namal holds a ministerial position for sports.
run out of diesel
Diesel was no longer on sale across Sri Lanka on Thursday, paralyzing transport as 22 million people experience record blackouts. Gasoline was on sale but in short supply forcing motorists to abandon their cars in long lines.
Fuel shortage hits buses
Diesel shortages have sparked outrage across Sri Lanka in recent days, but protests have so far been in towns and have not targeted any major leader, ahead of Thursday’s events.
“We are withdrawing fuel from the buses in the garage for repairs and using diesel to power the serviceable vehicles,” said Transport Minister Dilum Amunogama.
Owners of private buses – which represent two-thirds of the country’s fleet – said oil has already run out and that even structural services may not be possible after Friday.
On Thursday, a minister said Sri Lanka is turning off its street lights to save electricity. The state monopoly on electricity also imposed a 13-hour blackout as they did not have diesel for generators.