Monday, May 09, 2022
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka, whose prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Monday, has been mired for the past two months in a deep political and economic crisis.
The island nation of 22 million people is experiencing acute shortages of food, fuel and other essentials, a crisis that has inflicted widespread misery and triggered weeks of mass demonstrations.
The South Asian country emerged from a devastating civil war in 2009 only to be rocked by Islamist bombings in 2019, before being hit hard the following year by the COVID-19 pandemic which torpedoed its vital tourism sector.
Here is how the crisis has unfolded:
Hundreds of protesters, rallied by unidentified social media activists, try to storm the home of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, demanding his resignation.
As protests spread, Rajapaksa declares a state of emergency, giving security forces sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects.
Sri Lanka declares a 36-hour nationwide curfew and deploys troops.
Almost all of Sri Lanka's cabinet resigns at a late-night meeting, leaving Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda -- the prime minister -- isolated.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa offers to share power with the opposition under a unity administration led by him and Mahinda but is rebuffed.
The governor of the central bank, having resisted calls to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund, announces his resignation.
President Rajapaksa's problems deepen as finance minister Ali Sabry resigns just a day after he was appointed.
The embattled leader loses his parliamentary majority as former allies urge him to quit. He lifts the state of emergency.
Tens of thousands march on the president's office in the biggest protest to date, demanding that Rajapaksa resign.
Sri Lanka's doctors say they are nearly out of life-saving medicines, warning that the crisis could end up killing more than the coronavirus pandemic.
The country announces it is defaulting on its external debt of $51 billion as a "last resort" after running out of foreign exchange to import desperately needed goods.
On April 18, the president unveils a new government, ousting two of his brothers and a nephew but keeping on his eldest brother Mahinda as prime minister.
On April 19, the police kill a protester, the first casualty of several weeks of anti-government protests.
The next day the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it has asked Sri Lanka to restructure its colossal external debt before a rescue package can be agreed upon.
On April 28, a general strike brings the country to a standstill.
After a second such strike on May 6, Rajapaksa declares another state of emergency. The police step up security around lawmakers from the ruling party.
On May 9, Mahinda Rajapaksa resigns as prime minister after violent clashes between his supporters and anti-government protesters that left three dead and more than 150 injured.
A lawmaker from the ruling party shoots two anti-government protesters, killing one, and then takes his own life during a confrontation outside the capital.
The authorities announce a nationwide curfew.