Sri Lankan police opened fire on demonstrators opposing new fuel price hikes on Tuesday, killing one and injuring 13 others. It was the first shooting by security forces during weeks of protests against the country’s worst economic crisis in decades, and it was the first such shooting in the country in decades.
As a result of the fights with protestors, fifteen police officers were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
Police stated that they fired shots at protestors in Rambukkana, which is 90 kilometres (55 miles) northeast of Colombo, the country’s capital, and that they subsequently proclaimed a local curfew. According to Nihal Talduwa, a spokeswoman for the police, the protestors were obstructing railway lines and roadways and had refused to disperse despite repeated police warnings. According to him, demonstrators also hurled rocks at police officers.
One person died at the government hospital in Kegalle, according to Dr. Mihiri Priyangani, who stated 14 individuals were brought in with suspected gunshot wounds and that one person died at the hospital. A total of three other people had undergone surgery and were being closely monitored. According to her, the police officers who were taken to the hospital suffered minor injuries, presumably as a result of being struck by stones.
When it comes to international debt payments, Sri Lanka is on the verge of declaring bankruptcy, with roughly $7 billion of its total $25 billion in foreign debt due for payback this year.
Chung demanded that an impartial inquiry be conducted into the incident.
Tamils have been forced to wait in line for hours to purchase the extremely limited supplies of necessary items including as food, cooking gas, gasoline, and medication, which have been in short supply for months.
Fuel prices have increased on a number of occasions in recent months, resulting in significant rises in transportation expenses as well as the prices of other necessities. At the stroke of midnight on Monday, there was yet another round of rises.
In an effort to hold the president accountable for the economic crisis, thousands of demonstrators took up position outside the entrance to the White House for the 11th day on Tuesday. During a vigil to protest the shooting in Rambukkana that took place late at night outside his office in Colombo, the audience held their phones up to provide light.
On Tuesday, Sri Lanka’s prime minister said that the country’s constitution would be amended to limit presidential authority and provide more power to Parliament, as protestors continued to call for the country’s president and his influential family to step down.
In his address to Parliament, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the power transfer is a swift action that may be made to politically stabilise the country and assist in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over an economic recovery plan.
Following his election as president in 2019, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the prime minister’s brother, consolidated control in the executive branch.
It is critical that we have political and social stability in the nation while seeking for answers to our economic challenges, Prime Minister Rajapaksa said, adding that returning greater authority to Parliament would be the first step in the reform process.
Because they have both the presidency and the prime ministership, the Rajapaksa brothers are likely to maintain their grip on power even if the constitution is altered.
President Rajapaksa recognised on Monday that he had made errors that had contributed to the crisis, including postponing an application to the International Monetary Fund for assistance and prohibiting agrochemicals with the goal of converting Sri Lankan agriculture to a completely organic system. Critics claim that the restriction on imported fertiliser was imposed in order to preserve the country’s dwindling foreign currency reserves, and that it has had a negative impact on farmers.
There is a political standstill since both the president and prime minister are refusing to resign their positions. Despite the fact that opposition parties have rejected the president’s call for a unity government, they have not been able to come together to create a new government in Parliament.
As part of his Cabinet reshuffle on Monday, the president recruited numerous fresh faces while excluding four family members who had previously held Cabinet and non-Cabinet positions, in an apparent effort to appease demonstrators while maintaining his family’s hegemony over the country’s affairs.
In a meeting with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in Washington, Finance Minister Ali Sabry proposed a quick funding facility for countries experiencing critical balance of payment issues, according to the Finance Ministry on Tuesday.
In an interview with Sabry, Georgieva was quoted as saying that India has also supported Sri Lanka’s proposal for the facility.
Later, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met with Sabry and promised him of India’s continued assistance for Sri Lanka’s economic recovery, according to the ministry of external affairs.
China and India have also offered emergency loans to Sri Lanka, which has used the funds to purchase food and gasoline.