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Sri Lanka Prez Rajapaksa Won't Resign, Says a Minister; Emergency Order Revoked

A state of emergency had been imposed in Sri Lanka amid the politico-economic crisis in the nation.

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Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will not resign, a minister of the nation said on Wednesday, 6 April, amid a politico-economic crisis in the country.

“May I remind you that 6.9 million people voted for the president. As a government, we are clearly saying the president will not resign under any circumstances. We will face this,” Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando was quoted as saying by Reuters.

President Rajapaksa had, late on Tuesday, revoked a state of emergency that was imposed in the country to quell the rampant protests amid the economic turmoil in the nation.

In a gazette notification, President Rajapaksa withdrew the Emergency Rule Ordinance, which gave security forces powers to curb any disturbance in the country. The emergency had been imposed in the country on Friday, 1 April, following massive demonstrations outside the president's house.

The island nation is struggling with an ongoing financial crisis that has impacted the supply of basic goods such as food, medicine, and fuel.

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The Political Developments in Sri Lanka in the Past Few Days

At least 41 Sri Lankan lawmakers walked out of the ruling coalition on Tuesday, leaving the Rajapaksa government in a minority in the Parliament.

Meanwhile, the country's army chief Shavendra Silva ordered an inquiry after a verbal confrontation took place between the armed forces and the police on Tuesday night. A group of masked soldiers wielding assault rifles drove through a mob of protesters in Colombo on unmarked motorcycles, and were stopped by the police, leading to an argument between the two groups.

Sajith Premadasa, the leader of the Opposition, urged Parliament on Tuesday to abolish Sri Lanka's Executive Presidential system, which gives the president special powers.

"For nearly 20 years every leader promised to abolish the Executive Presidency but only strengthened it," Premadasa said in a bold speech while addressing the House, and urged lawmakers to introduce a new electoral system in the country, news agency ANI reported.

Meanwhile, in another setback, Ali Sabry, who replaced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's brother Basil Rajapaksa as Sri Lanka's finance minister on Monday, resigned on Tuesday after just one day in the Cabinet.

"Whilst I regret the inconvenience caused, I believe I have always acted in the best interests of the country," Sabry stated in his resignation letter, adding that "fresh and proactive and unconventional steps" were needed to solve the country's problems.

Four ministers – Ali Sabry, Dinesh Gunawardena, Johnston Fernando, GL Peiris – were sworn in at the Presidential Secretariat on Monday, hours after the previous Cabinet resigned en masse.

On Sunday, all 26 Cabinet ministers in Rajapaksa's government had resigned, while the president affirmed that he had no plans to quit his post.

Rajapaksa dissolved his cabinet on Monday and sought to form a unity government as public unrest surged over his handling of the worst economic downturn that the country has faced in decades. Subsequently, the president had invited all political parties in the country to join a 'unity government' – an offer that was rejected by the Opposition parties.

(With inputs from NDTV and ANI.)

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