Colombo: People’s anger against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is increasing in Sri Lanka, which is facing severe economic crisis. In the biggest protest ever, thousands took to the streets on Saturday (April 9) to demand Rajapaksa’s resignation. According to AFP, the pressure on Rajapaksa has intensified as the country’s powerful business community has also begun to withdraw support for the president. Sri Lanka’s 22 million people saw weeks of power cuts, severe shortages of food, fuel and other essentials in the country’s worst recession since independence in 1948.
President’s Secretariat siege of "go home gota" raised slogans and waved the national flag. A large number of people were carrying hand-written placards on which it was written, "It’s time for you (President) to go" And "enough."
Seeing the demonstration, the police blocked the entrance to the President’s office with barricades and took a position inside the tight security complex. The protest was peaceful, but a police officer said tear gas and water cannons were ready if needed. Earlier on Friday, security forces fired water cannons at the protesting students.
‘We are all fighting for a living’
One of the participants in the demonstration the person said, "These are innocent people here. We are all struggling to live. The government should go and let a competent person lead the country." Citizens said widespread protests also took place in the capital’s suburbs, while Catholic and Anglican churches also brought their followers to the streets. The head of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjit, led a protest in the city of Negombo, north of Colombo, urging people to continue protesting until the Rajapaksa administration resigned. They said, "Everyone should take to the streets till the government leaves, these leaders should go. You must go. You have destroyed this country."
Business community also against the President
Sri Lanka’s business community, which heavily funded Rajapaksa’s election campaign, appeared to be going against the President on Saturday. Rohan Masakorla, Head, Sri Lanka Association of Manufacturers and Exporters of Rubber Products said, "The current political and economic impasse cannot continue any further, we need a cabinet and an interim government within a week."
Masakorla’s union joins 22 other business and industry organizations calling for a change in government, saying that daily losses due to fuel shortages alone are approximately US$50 million (S$ 68 million) reached. In a joint statement, they said they were responsible for producing almost a quarter of the country’s GDP of US$80.17 billion. He warned that millions of jobs would be at risk.