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Sri Lanka crisis: Protestors block presidential secretariat entrances, 21 arrested


COLOMBO: A group of protesters in Sri Lanka demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for the mismanagement of the economy blocked all entrances of the presidential secretariat, here on Monday, forcing the police to arrest 21 people, including a Buddhist monk and four women.

The demonstration at the GotaGoGama, a protest site at the Galle Face, entered the 73rd day on Monday. The protesters last night blocked the two entry points to the presidential secretariat in addition to the entrance which they have been continuously blocking since April 9.

Police arrested 21 people, including a Buddhist monk and four women. They said the latest action by the protesters to block the two gates which provide access to the finance ministry and the government treasury was uncalled for. The police wanted to clear the two gates as an IMF team is due to visit the finance ministry.

The International Monetary Fund team is visiting Colombo to continue discussions on a possible bailout programme to support the island nation’s economic recovery.

The island nation, home to around 22 million people, defaulted on its debt for the first time in its history and is currently facing its worst economic crisis in more than 70 years, experiencing extreme fuel shortages, soaring food prices and a lack of medicines. Protesters blame the government for the mismanagement of the economy.

ALSO READ: Sri Lanka schools, government offices to shut as transport grinds to halt

Sri Lanka is seeking to restructure debts of more than USD 50 billion it owes to foreign creditors, to make it more manageable to repay.

Sri Lanka is awaiting official confirmation from India on a new credit line that would allow the cash-strapped nation to have supplies of petrol and diesel for the next four months, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara said on Friday.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that a new Credit Line provided by India will support the cash-strapped island nation’s fuel purchase for another four months from July even as an LPG shipment of 3,500 metric tonnes reached Sri Lanka.

ALSO READ: Bankrupt Sri Lanka opens IMF talks for possible bailout after shutdown

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