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Street fights have dangerous ends, Sri Lanka PM warns protesters

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Colombo | Tuesday, 2022 4:45:09 AM IST
Amidst week-long unending protests against the government and politicians, mainly by youths, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday urged protesters to stop the street fights, warning that it could have dangerous repercussions.

Addressing the nation on all national television channels, he said that the country's history bears dangerous lessons when demands were made on the entire parliament to step down, rejecting the democratic system.

Referring to the rise of Tamil rebel movement, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), he said: "Bombing the parliament and killing the people's representatives on road, the youth in the North in 1970s started a struggle demanding the parliamentarians step down."

"Every second you are protesting, we are losing dollars of the county," Rajapaksa told the protesters who have now occupied the entrance to President's office in the heart of Colombo and have put up tents and foods and drinks supplied by supporters from all over the country.

With rocketing inflation and dried-up dollar reserves, the Indian Ocean island is going through the worst economic crisis since its Independence with months-long queues for fuel, LP gas, milk powder and now, lack of medicines which medical experts have described as a "medical emergency".

Rajapaksa came on TV amidst the demand by protesters urging President Gotabaya Rajapaksa - his younger brother, former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa and all Rajapaksas to step down claiming that they have looted the country.

The PM admitted that the country was falling over a precipice though his government was able to save it from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rajapaska assured that he would stop the economic decline saying that his government working 24 hours.

However, he accused the opposition for not joining hands to come out of the crisis despite invitation.

Rajapaksa said that certain loans from other countries had to be withdrawn in order to protect the sovereignty of the country.

"Even at a most difficult time, we tried to obtain loans from other countries while maintaining sovereignty. As a result, we had to withdraw some opportunities to take loans.

"The insults hurled against me and my family members are enormous but we can bear them all," Rajapaksa, a former President, said.

He announced the decision to withdraw complete organic agriculture introduced by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and said chemical fertiliser subsidies would be provided to the farmers. The controversial decision led to an agriculture disaster with famers could not get the expected harvest and leading to a food crisis where Sri Lanka was forced to import on loans.

On Monday, India, under its $1 billion credit line for essential commodities, including food and medicine, sent 40,000 MT of rice to Sri Lanka.

--IANS sfl/vd

( 458 Words)

2022-04-11-22:56:02 (IANS)

 
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