COLOMBO, April 11 (PTI): Efforts to establish an all party interim government in Sri Lanka to deal with the unprecedented economic crisis remained inconclusive as the talks between President Gotabaya Rajapaka and the group of independents from his own ruling SLPP coalition failed to make progress on the issue.
On Sunday, President Gotabaya invited the eleven-party coalition allies comprising 42 independent MPs for a discussion on the country’s worst economic crisis.
“We discussed our letter which contained 11 points in regard to our proposal, the talks would continue,” Vasudeva Nanayakkara, an independent group member, told reporters on Monday.
He and 41 others had declared independence from the ruling coalition last week but declined to join the Opposition.
Anura Yapa, another independent group leader, said that prior to meeting Rajapaksa they had met the main opposition leader Sajith Premadasa in the presence of the former President Maithripala Sirisena.
“Both sides discussed the situation without making any decisions,” Yapa said.
The government sources said that appointing the balance 26 members of the Cabinet would be further delayed. Rajapaksa appointed just four Cabinet members after the resignation of all ministers.
Last week the entire Sri Lankan cabinet resigned apart from Mahinda Rajapaksa at a time when the country was facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from the UK in 1948.
Meanwhile, the anti-Rajapaksa protest which started on Saturday has continued to its third day on Monday. The gathering calling for the Rajapaksa family’s resignation has continued their all night vigil.
“This is the new generation who are protesting here, we want accountability for all political wrongs over the last 74 years since independence”, a protester said.
The protest organised through a social media political campaign is being backed up by volunteers who provided food and drink for the protesters.
The island observes a public holiday on Monday and Tuesday which the protesters said was a government ploy to reduce the scale of protests.
The people were thought to be leaving the capital Colombo to outer areas in order to celebrate the National New Year which falls on April 13 and 14.
There were pro-Rajapaksa demonstrations held in a few parts of the country yesterday. They urged the Rajapaksa family to stay on. “We are grateful to the President who gave us vaccines to save our lives from the pandemic”, a placard said.
These political manoeuvrings were taking place amid a massive anti-government street protest demanding the Sri Lankan President’s resignation.
People have been protesting for weeks over lengthy power cuts and shortage of gas, food and other basic goods.
Since Saturday, protesters from all walks of life have marched into Galle Face where Rajapaksa’s secretariat is located.
President Rajapaksa and his elder brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, continue to hold power in Sri Lanka, despite their politically powerful family being the focus of public ire.
The President has defended his government’s actions, saying the foreign exchange crisis was not his making and the economic downturn was largely pandemic driven with the island nation’s tourism revenue and inward remittances waning.