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Sri Lanka crisis highlights: Fuel-starved Colombo gets first of three shipments; Gotabaya Rajapaksa says he ‘took all possible steps’ to prevent crisis

Sri Lanka crisis highlights: Sri Lanka's central bank governor says economy to contract by more than 6% in 2022, says country's central bank governor; Wickremesinghe, Premadasa among four leaders to contest presidential election in Sri Lanka.

By: Express Web Desk
Updated: July 16, 2022 10:36:10 pm
Army soldiers patrol outside the parliament complex in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 16, 2022. (AP)

Sri Lanka crisis highlights: Ousted president Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in his resignation letter that he took “all possible steps” to avert the Sri Lankan crisis. The president’s letter was read out at a special session of the Parliament on Saturday. In other news, Sri Lanka received the first of three fuel shipments on Saturday, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said, reported PTI. These are the first shipments to reach the country in about three weeks.

Sri Lanka’s economy is likely to contract by more than 6% this year as political instability and social unrest affect discussions on financial relief with the IMF, the country’s central bank governor told The Wall Street Journal in an interview.

Sri Lanka’s acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe, main Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa are among the four leaders who have joined the race to become the country’s next President as the lawmakers met on Saturday to start the process of electing a new president to succeed Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who resigned after unprecedented protests against his government over the country’s economic collapse. Besides Wickremesinghe and Premadasa, Marxist JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Dullas Alahapperuma, a breakaway SLPP candidate, are the other two leaders who have so far announced their candidacy to contest the July 20 vote in Parliament to succeed Rajapaksa for the rest of his term until November 2024 after he resigned on Thursday.

Live Blog

Sri Lanka Crisis: With country bankrupt, cricket comes to rescue of Lanka’s Commonwealth Games-bound athletes. Follow this space for the highlights

21:02 (IST)16 Jul 2022
In pictures | Security beefed up in crisis-hit Sri Lanka

Security personnel stand guard outside the parliament building, amid the country's economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 16, 2022. (REUTERS)
Army soldiers stand guard outside the parliament building in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 16, 2022. (AP)
Army soldiers patrol outside parliament building in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 16, 2022. (AP)
Security personel patrol in a boat in the premises of the Parliament building, amid the country's economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 16, 2022. (REUTERS)
Army soldiers rest outside the parliament building in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 16, 2022. (AP)

20:44 (IST)16 Jul 2022
Watch | Who will take over now Sri Lanka's president has resigned?

19:53 (IST)16 Jul 2022
Sri Lanka's central bank governor says economy to contract by more than 6% in 2022: WSJ

Sri Lanka's economy is likely to contract by more than 6% this year as political instability and social unrest affect discussions on financial relief with the IMF, the country's central bank governor told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. (Reuters)

18:19 (IST)16 Jul 2022
India provides dry rations worth SLR 80 million to Sri Lanka

Deputy High Commissioner Vinod K Jacob on Saturday handed over dry rations worth SLR 80 million to Department of Probations and Child Care Services, Sri Lanka.

17:05 (IST)16 Jul 2022
Watch | #GotaGoHome: The hashtag that defined Sri Lanka's revolution

16:50 (IST)16 Jul 2022
With country bankrupt, cricket comes to rescue of Lanka’s Commonwealth Games-bound athletes

A little more than a month ago, the Sri Lankan government told its Olympic association to “forget” about participating in the Commonwealth Games to be held in the UK. With the island nation bankrupt, out of fuel and short on food supplies, its government was in no mood to entertain the request to fund what would be Sri Lanka’s largest-ever contingent for the Games, which begins in Birmingham on July 28.

“The Treasury said they don’t have money. Forget about it,” Sri Lanka’s chef de mission Dampath Fernando told The Indian Express from Colombo on Friday. “We fell into a difficult, desperate situation.” Read more

15:13 (IST)16 Jul 2022
The Gotabaya Rajapaksa story: a champion of Sinhala pride to fugitive leader

Danish Ali was 18 when Gotabaya Rajapaksa became a hero. It was 2009. Gotabaya, then the Defence Secretary, along with his brother and then President Mahinda Rajapaksa, were hailed for killing LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran and ending Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war.

“I had just passed out of school, and I left for Australia to study soon after,” Ali says. “At that time, everyone was cheering him on as the great leader…but my family knew he was a racist and that they were invoking Sinhala pride to dominate over the minorities in the country.”

The past few months changed everything — both for Sri Lanka as well as Gotabaya. Read more



Sri Lanka army soldiers patrol near the official residence of ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa after it was stormed by anti-government protesters in Colombo. (AP)
15:10 (IST)16 Jul 2022
Andrew Fidel Fernando writes: The spectacular cowardice of Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, once Sri Lanka’s most feared figure, rumoured to run clandestine death squads, who struck dread among the press, bore down upon minorities, and whose links to the military were iron-clad, has fled the nation of which he was president, and two days later, tendered his resignation via an email.

It is a surreal consequence of several surreal months on the island. Months in which an unprecedented public uprising has put extraordinary pressure on the nation’s political establishment, particularly those within it who are accused of contributing to the harrowing economic crisis that has left many destitute. Read full Opinion piece here

Reuters image
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15:08 (IST)16 Jul 2022
India assures continued support to democracy, stability and economic recovery in Sri Lanka

India on Saturday assured Sri Lanka that it will continue to support democracy, stability and economic recovery in the country, which is at a crucial juncture, amid the unprecedented political crisis and economic turmoil.

The assurance was given to Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena by India’s High Commissioner Gopal Baglay when he called on the Sri Lankan leader.

The meeting took place a day after Speaker Abeywardena accepted the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Read more

Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena with India's High Commissioner Gopal Baglay. (Twitter/@IndiainSL)
15:01 (IST)16 Jul 2022
India is like brother to us, helping us a lot: Sri Lankan cricketer Karunaratne

Sri Lankan cricketer Chamika Karunaratne has praised India for its help during the economic and political crisis faced by the island nation.

"India is like a brother country to us. They are helping us a lot. I would like to thank them. We know we are having a big problem and India always supports us. We have a rich history with India. We know that we are struggling, but thanks to India for everything and we will keep getting better and better," said the cricketer. (ANI)

14:55 (IST)16 Jul 2022
Anura Kumara Dissanayake to contest presidential election in Sri Lanka

Jathika Jana Balawegaya leader Anura Kumara Dissanayaka has announced his candidacy for the post of President. He is currently a member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.


14:39 (IST)16 Jul 2022
Watch | 'Ranil must go, if not the struggle continues': Sri Lankan protest leader Danish Ali

14:10 (IST)16 Jul 2022
Who are the candidates in line to be the next President of Sri Lanka?

Four main contenders have emerged for the vacant post of the President of Sri Lanka following Gotabaya Rajapaksa's resignation. They are:



    1. Ranil Wickremesinghe: The interim President, current Prime Minister and a close ally of the Rajapaksa family. He is a member of the United National Party and has support from the SLPP. 
    1. Sajith Premadasa: The current Leader of Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya party MP. (Read an interview with him)
    1. Dullas Alahapperuma: Former Cabinet Minister and Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna member. As SLPP has pledged support for Wickremesinghe, his chances of winning the election are low. 
    1. Anura Kumara Dissanayake: Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna party leader and former Cabinet Minister. 
13:05 (IST)16 Jul 2022
National fuel pass to be implemented

Sri Lanka will implement a National Fuel Pass to monitor the fuel consumption of vehicles as Sri Lanka looks to tide over the fuel crisis without further disruptions. 

"Introduction to the National Fuel Pass will be held @ 12.30pm. A guaranteed weekly fuel quota will be allocated. 1 Vehicle per 1 NIC, QR code allocated once Vehicle Chassis number & details verified. 2 days of the week according to Last Digit of number plate for fueling with QR," Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said.

13:04 (IST)16 Jul 2022
Fuel-starved Sri Lanka gets first of three shipments

Sri Lanka received the first of three fuel shipments on Saturday, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said. These are the first shipments to reach the country in about three weeks.

A second diesel consignment will also arrive on Saturday, with a shipment of petrol due by Tuesday.

"Payments completed for all 3," the minister said in a tweet. (Reuters)

12:52 (IST)16 Jul 2022
In photo: Police patrol outside Parliament

Army soldiers patrol in a boat outside the parliament building in Colombo, Sri Lanka, as lawmakers meet inside for a brief special session to announce the vacancy in presidency. 

Photo credit: Associated Press
12:34 (IST)16 Jul 2022
Cricket update: Sri Lanka top order collapses after batting 1st vs Pakistan

Pakistan took early advantage in the first cricket test against Sri Lanka by reducing the hosts to 80 for four at lunch on the first day Saturday. Sri Lanka had elected to bat first at the Galle International Stadium after winning the toss in good batting conditions, but the team's batsmen failed to live up to expectations with several soft dismissals.

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne dragged a Shaeen Afridi delivery onto his stumps for 1 and then a 49-run stand followed for the second wicket between Oshada Fernando and Kusal Mendis. Then Sri Lanka lost three wickets for the addition of just eight runs, slumping to 68 for four after being 60 for one. (AP)

12:30 (IST)16 Jul 2022
India assures continued support to democracy, stability and economic recovery in Sri Lanka

India on Saturday assured Sri Lanka that it will continue to support democracy, stability and economic recovery in the country, which is at a crucial juncture, amid the unprecedented political crisis and economic turmoil.

The assurance was given to Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena by India’s High Commissioner Gopal Baglay when he called on the Sri Lankan leader. (Read more)

12:20 (IST)16 Jul 2022
A break from politics

Amidst the political confusion, Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat against Pakistan in the first cricket test against Pakistan at the Galle International Stadium on Saturday. The hosts made two changes to the team that won the second test against Australia by an innings earlier this week.

Opening batsman Pathum Nissanka was left out as he is recovering from Covid-19 with Oshada Fernando replacing him. Middle order batsman Kamindu Mendis, who made a half-century on debut, made way for Dhananjaya de Silva, who is returning after Covid. For Pakistan, all-rounder Salman Agha is making his debut. The second match in the two-test series begins July 24 in Colombo. (PTI)

Teams

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Ramesh Mendis, Maheesh Theekshana, Kasun Rajitha and Prabath Jayasuriya

Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Salman Agha, Shaheen Afridi and Yasir Shah.

11:58 (IST)16 Jul 2022
Over 6 million people in crisis-hit Sri Lanka 'food insecure': World Food Programme

Over six million people or over 28 per cent of Sri Lanka's population are "food insecure" and this situation is likely to deteriorate as the crisis unfolds in the island nation which is grappling with its worst economic crisis, the World Food Programme has said.

Sri Lanka is currently reeling under a severe foreign exchange crisis with falling reserves and the government is unable to foot the bill for essential imports. The WFP on Friday said in a situation report that 6.3 million people (28.3 per cent) in the country are food insecure and this is likely to deteriorate as the crisis unfolds.

Of these, at least 65,600 people are severely food insecure. WFP warned that these figures could increase drastically without immediate intervention, the report added. WFP said skyrocketing food costs are making it harder for the population to meet their food needs. About 6.7 million people are not consuming adequate diets and 5.3 million people are reducing the number of meals eaten. (PTI)

Earlier on Saturday, India's High Commissioner Gopal Baglay called on Sri Lanka's Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and assured him that India will continue to support democracy, stability and economic recovery in the country. India has been the principal source of foreign assistance to Sri Lanka this year.

The new president is expected to be elected on July 20 and will serve the remainder of Rajapaksa's term, which ends in 2024. In the meantime, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn in as the interim president of the country. The newly-elected president is likely to appoint a new prime minister, who would then have to be approved by Parliament.

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa story: a champion of Sinhala pride to fugitive leader

Danish Ali was 18 when Gotabaya Rajapaksa became a hero. It was 2009. Gotabaya, then the Defence Secretary, along with his brother and then President Mahinda Rajapaksa, were hailed for killing LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran and ending Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war.

Sri Lankans celebrate the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Colombo on Thursday. (Photo: AP)

“I had just passed out of school, and I left for Australia to study soon after,” Ali says. “At that time, everyone was cheering him on as the great leader…but my family knew he was a racist and that they were invoking Sinhala pride to dominate over the minorities in the country.”

The past few months changed everything — both for Sri Lanka as well as Gotabaya.

Gotabaya, who resigned on Thursday after fleeing the country, is now in Singapore, a fugitive leader. For Ali, now 31 and a prominent face of the Argalaya, the youth-led protest movement that triggered the call for change amid a gruelling economic crisis, it’s a case of priorities set right.

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First published on: 14-07-2022 at 07:13:02 am
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