chronology of a crisis – The citizen

Sri Lanka, whose, whose Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Monday, he has been mired in the past two months in a deep political and economic crisis.

The island nation of 22 million is experiencing a severe shortage of food, fuel and other essential goods, 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 that torpedoed its vital tourism sector.

Here’s how the crisis developed:

– March 31: the President’s house threatened –

Hundreds of protesters, rounded up by unidentified social media activists, tried to storm the home of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, demanding his resignation.

– April 1: State of emergency –

As protests spread, Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency, giving the security forces broad powers to arrest and detain suspects.

– April 2: troops deployed, curfew –

Sri Lanka declares a 36-hour national curfew and deploys troops.

– April 3: the Council of Ministers resigns –

Most of the Sri Lankan cabinet resigns in a late night meeting, leaving Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda, the prime minister, isolated.

– April 4: Other resignations –

Gotabaya Rajapaksa offers to share power with the opposition under a unitary administration led by him and Mahinda, but is rejected.

The central bank governor, after resisting calls for a bailout from the International Monetary Fund, announces his resignation.

– April 5: the president loses the majority –

President Rajapaksa’s problems are compounded when Finance Minister Ali Sabry resigns just a day after his appointment.

The struggling leader loses parliamentary majority as former allies urge him to step down. He raises the state of emergency.

– April 9: the biggest street protest –

Tens of thousands of people march to the president’s office in the largest protest to date, demanding Rajapaksa’s resignation.

– April 10: shortage of medicines –

Sri Lankan doctors say they have nearly run out of life-saving drugs, warning that the crisis could end up killing more than the coronavirus pandemic.

– April 12: foreign debt default –

The country announces that it defaults on its $ 51 billion foreign debt as a “last resort” after running out of foreign currencies to import goods it desperately needs.

– April 18: New government –

On April 18, the president unveils a new government, ousting two of his brothers and a nephew but keeping his older brother Mahinda as prime minister.

– April 19: first victim –

On April 19, police killed a demonstrator, the first victim of several weeks of anti-government protests.

The next day, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it asked Sri Lanka to restructure its colossal external debt before a bailout package can be agreed.

– April 28: general strikes –

On April 28, a general strike stops the country.

After a second such strike, on May 6, Rajapaksa declares another state of emergency. Police strengthen security around ruling party lawmakers.

– May 9: the Premier resigns –

On May 9, Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as prime minister after violent clashes between his supporters and anti-government protesters that resulted in three deaths and over 150 injuries.

A deputy from the ruling party shoots two anti-government protesters, killing one, then commits suicide in a confrontation outside the capital.

Authorities announce a nationwide curfew.