Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa reportedly offered his resignation after anti-government protesters clashed with police using tear gas and water cannons in the capital Colombo.
The reported resignation of an official comes as a curfew was imposed across Sri Lanka after government supporters attacked protesters camped outside the offices of the president and prime minister.
“The prime minister has sent his letter of resignation to the president,” the official said, declining to be identified.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the Prime Minister’s younger brother.
The prime minister’s resignation means the entire cabinet is dissolved, paving the way for a new government.
Three other prominent members of the Rajapaksa family have already resigned from their government posts.
It occurs when the unions begin a “week of protests” demanding the change of government and the resignation of the president due to the worst economic crisis in the country’s memory.
Sri Lanka is on the verge of bankruptcy and has suspended payments on its foreign loans.
Its financial problems have caused a political crisis, with the government facing widespread protests and a motion of censure in parliament.
the government of the country last week declared a state of emergency for the second time in five weeks, but public discontent has been simmering.
Mahinda Rajapaksa’s supporters demonstrated inside his office earlier, urging him to ignore protesters’ demands to resign and calling on him to remain in office.
Hundreds of ruling party supporters also demonstrated outside the prime minister’s official residence before the march.
to an anti-government protest site outside the presidential office.
Police had formed a line of personnel ahead of time on the main road leading to the site, but did little to stop
pro-government protesters advance, according to a Reuters witness.
Government supporters, some armed with iron bars, attacked anti-government protesters in the “Gota Go Gama” tent village that sprang up last month and became the focal point of protests across the country.
Police used dozens of tear gas shells and water cannons to break up the clash, the first major clash between
pro- and anti-government supporters since the protests began in late March.
At least nine people were taken to Colombo National Hospital for treatment after sustaining injuries or inhaling
tear gas during the clashes, said a hospital official, who declined to be identified.
“This is a peaceful protest,” Pasindu Senanayaka, an anti-government protester, told Reuters. “They attacked Gota Go Gama and set fire to our stores.”
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Dozens of paramilitaries with riot shields and helmets were deployed to keep the two groups apart after the initial clashes. The army said it had also deployed soldiers to the area.
“I strongly condemn the violent acts taking place by those who incite and participate, regardless of their political allegiances,” President Rajapaksa said in a tweet.
“Violence will not solve current problems.”
Hit hard by the pandemic, rising oil prices and tax cuts, Sri Lanka has as little as $50m (£40m) of usable foreign reserves, Finance Minister Ali Sabry said last week.
The government has approached the International Monetary Fund for a bailout and has been holding a virtual summit with officials from the multilateral lender to secure emergency assistance.
The long lines for cooking gas seen in recent days have frequently turned into impromptu protests as frustration
consumers blocked the roads.
National energy companies said they were running out of stocks of liquefied petroleum gas, which is mainly used for cooking.
Sri Lanka needs at least 40,000 tonnes of gas each month, and the monthly import bill would be $40m (£32m) at current prices.