Protests over economic crisis; Sri Lanka president loses parliament majority

In the arising protest over the economic crisis in Srilanka, the president lost his parliamentary majority on Tuesday as former allies urged his resignation. Severe shortages of food, fuel and other essentials along with record inflation and crippling power cuts have inflicted widespread misery in the country’s most painful downturn since independence from Britain in 1948.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s once-powerful ruling coalition is in turmoil after a string of defections, capped Tuesday by the announcement of the new finance minister’s resignation just one day after taking office. The government imposed a state of emergency last week in an effort to quell rising street protests, but the ordinance is set to expire next week without parliamentary approval.

Parliament adjourned for party leaders to decide on an opposition demand to put the emergency to a vote later on Tuesday. A critical lack of foreign currency has left Sri Lanka struggling to service its ballooning $51 billion foreign debt, with the pandemic torpedoing vital revenue from tourism and remittances. The result has seen unprecedented food and fuel shortages along with record inflation and crippling power cuts, with no sign of an end to the economic woes.

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