India stands with Lankan people, says MEA

Protestors demanding the resignation of Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa gather near the compound of Sri Lanka's Presidential Palace in Colombo on July 9, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

New Delhi: In its first reaction to the massive political turmoil in Colombo, India on Sunday said it stands with the Sri Lankan people in their aspirations for prosperity and progress through democratic means, established institutions and constitutional framework.

The comments by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) came a day after thousands of angry protesters stormed embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's official residence and set Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's private house on fire, in the culmination of months of agitation over the ongoing economic crisis.

MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India continues to closely follow the developments in Sri Lanka and that it is aware of the many challenges that the country and its people have been facing.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday announced that he will resign. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe also said that he will step down after a new government is formed.

"India is Sri Lanka's closest neighbour and our two countries share deep civilizational bonds. We are aware of the many challenges that Sri Lanka and its people have been facing, and we have stood with the Sri Lankan people as they have tried to overcome this difficult period," Bagchi said.

The MEA spokesperson noted that India stands with the people of Sri Lanka.

"India stands with the people of Sri Lanka as they seek to realise their aspirations for prosperity and progress through democratic means and values, established institutions and constitutional framework," he said.

In responding to media queries on the situation in Sri Lanka, Bagchi also referred to India's financial assistance to the island nation this year.

"In pursuance of the central place that Sri Lanka occupies in our Neighbourhood First policy, India has extended this year itself an unprecedented support of over USD 3.8 billion for ameliorating the serious economic situation in Sri Lanka," he said.

The island nation is reeling under severe shortages of food, fuel and medicines in the last few months as the economic crisis deteriorated.

As the economic crisis worsened, Sri Lanka witnessed massive street protests in the last months and the public anger led almost all the cabinet ministers to quit the government.

President Rajapaksa appointed Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister in May to deal with the situation.

There were growing calls for resignation by Gotabaya Rajapaksa. However, he had rejected the demand earlier.

Opposition parties to meet to discuss government formation

Sri Lanka's main Opposition parties are holding a special party meeting on Sunday to discuss the formation of a new all-party government, amid the unprecedented political turmoil that forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to offer their resignations after protesters occupied their homes in fury over the nation's crippling economic crisis.

The meeting of the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and its constituent parties will be attended by the leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa, leader of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Rauff Hakeem, leader of Tamil Progressive Alliance Mano Ganesan and leader of All Ceylon Makkal Congress Rishad Bathiudeen, News First portal reported.

Another meeting of the leaders of nine parties, including the National Freedom Front, is also planned for Sunday to discuss the emerging political situation. Vice President of the Communist Party of Sri Lanka Weerasumana Weerasinghe said that there will be a lengthy discussion about the all-party government.


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