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Sri Lankan President, Prime Minister Promise To Resign Amid Protests Over Economic Crisis

Sri Lankan President, Prime Minister Promise To Resign Amid Protests Over Economic Crisis

Sri Lankan President, Prime Minister Promise To Resign Amid Protests Over Economic Crisis

Protestors in Sri Lanka ride on the back of a truck to the president's office. (Screenshot from Twitter video by NewsWireLK)
Protestors in Sri Lanka ride on the back of a truck to the president's office. (Screenshot from Twitter video by NewsWireLK)

The Sri Lankan president and prime minister promised Saturday to resign after protestors stormed both officials’ private homes and offices, setting one residence on fire, after months of protest over a deepening economic crisis. Both officials were reportedly not present when their offices and homes were stormed. 

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa promised he would step down on Wednesday and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he would leave after the selection of a new government. President Rajapaksa has stated through his speaker, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, that he wants to ensure a smooth transition of power, AP reported.

Sri Lanka has been suffering for months from an economic meltdown including inflation, depletion of foreign currency and severe shortages of fuel, food and other essential products. These factors combined with government corruption have resulted in mounting debt and a defaulted economy. According to the AP, the country has worked with neighboring India and China, as well as the U.S. and Australia, to find relief. 

Fuel shortages have been so severe that the energy minister declared in early July that the country had less than one day of fuel left. Without fuel, produce, medicine and other relief supplies cannot be transported. Other types of fuel, such as cooking oil, have also been scarce, causing people to stand in lines for several days. 

“I’ve gone six months without cooking gas now. I once waited for four days for kerosene and I still didn’t get anything,” one woman told the BBC.

“Without gas, without kerosene oil, we can’t do anything,” Mohammad Shazly, who has a family of five, told Aljazeera. “Last option what? Without food we are going to die. That will happen 100 percent.”

Families in Sri Lanka are skipping meals. According to the UN World Food Programme 86% of families in Sri Lanka are running short on food and are trying to stretch what they have. In cities, the cost of living has risen significantly. Hospitals have been running low on supplies. Children haven’t been able to attend school as fuel shortages caused school closures.

How Do These Events Affect Christians?

According to the U.S. State Department, Christians are about 7% of Sri Lanka’s population. The spiraling economic crisis has hit many Christians hard since much of Sri Lanka’s Christian population inhabits rural, low-income areas where food and fuel are especially scarce, Open Doors reported. 

With the prospect of a new government, Christians, along with the rest of the country, may find their way out of the shortages and corruption. Many Christian leaders have called out the government’s role in the economic crisis. 

Bishops in the Church of Ceylon, which is connected to the Anglican church, issued a statement requesting the president and prime minister to step down: “We are extremely concerned that our people are dying on the streets languishing in fuel queues for days waiting to get a meagre supply of Petrol or Diesel.”

“Any Government which cannot command the confidence of its own people will not stand a chance in commanding the respect of outside governments or funding agencies. Furthermore, it is ridiculous to expect outside agencies to bail out Sri Lanka when those who are responsible for corruption and mismanagement are still in control of the country.”

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Colombo said in a statement: “what I am earnestly requesting from the President and the Government of Sri Lanka, is to accept responsibility for this sad situation and step down from their positions, since they have no moral right to continue in office anymore under these circumstances and hand over power back to the people without causing further suffering to them.” 

The true outcome of the situation remains to be seen as a replacement government has yet to be selected.

Please pray for Christians and all Sri Lankans as they traverse this on-going political and economic turmoil and a plethora of shortages. Pray that Christians would trust in Christ and be witness of him to their neighbors.

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Photo: Screenshot from Twitter video by NewsWireLK

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