Printed on Thu Jun 30 2022 3:45:23 PM

Sri Lanka ruling alliance loses majority in parliament

International Desk
World
Sri Lanka
At least 41 Sri Lankan lawmakers walked out of the ruling coalition on Tuesday, leaving the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a minority in parliament as it struggles with the country's worst economic crisis in decades.

Rajapaksa dissolved his cabinet on Monday and sought to form a unity government as public unrest surged over the ruling family's handling of the debt-heavy economy that has led to shortages of food, fuel, and prolonged power cuts.

Sending the administration into deeper trouble, Finance Minister Ali Sabry resigned a day after his appointment and ahead of crucial talks scheduled with the International Monetary Fund for a loan programme.

"I believe I have acted in the best interests of the country, and at this crucial juncture the country needs stability to weather the current financial crisis and difficulties," Sabry said in his resignation letter seen by Reuter.

Street demonstrations against the shortages, triggered by a lack of foreign exchange for imports, began last month but have intensified in recent days, leading to clashes between protesters and police in some instances.

Names of the 41 lawmakers to leave the coalition were announced by party leaders in parliament.

They have now become independent members, leaving Rajapaksa's government with fewer than the 113 members needed to maintain a majority in the 225-member house.

There has been no vote count yet, although Rajapaksa's minority government could find decision-making more challenging. Independent parliamentarians, however, could continue to support government proposals in the house.

"There are endless shortages of essentials including fuel and cooking gas. Hospitals are on the verge of closing because there are no medicines," Maithripala Sirisena, leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party that withdrew its support for Rajapaksa's coalition, told parliament.
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