Sri Lankan leader says IMF deal delayed after riots

Sri Lankan leader says IMF deal delayed after riots

COLOMBO – Sri Lanka’s president said on Saturday that a deal with the International Monetary Fund to help lift the bankrupt nation out of its economic crisis has been delayed until September due to unrest in recent weeks.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his first speech since being elected to parliament on July 20, said that although he, as prime minister, had aimed to reach an agreement in early August, it has now been delayed by a month.

Wickremesinghe was elected to complete the five-year term of his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled to Singapore after protesters angry at economic hardship stormed his official residence and occupied several key government buildings.

Wickremesinghe said talks with the IMF about a rescue package had not moved since those incidents.

Sri Lanka announced in April that it was suspending payments on its foreign loans due to a severe shortage of foreign exchange. The island nation has an external debt of $51 billion, of which $28 billion must be paid by 2027.

Wickremesinghe wrote Friday to 225 lawmakers in Parliament to join him in a multi-party government to deal with the crisis. He reiterated the call on Saturday saying that blaming former leaders will not solve the problem, but everyone must come together to prevent the country from falling further.

Wickremesinghe, a six-time prime minister and veteran politician, is unpopular because he has the support of most lawmakers backed by the powerful Rajapaksa family, which has ruled Sri Lanka for most of the last two decades. Many accuse Wickremesinghe of protecting the Rajapaksas, whom he is widely blamed for the corruption and misrule that led to the crisis.

Wickremesinghe has authorized the military to dismantle protest camps that have been set up near the president’s office for more than 100 days. Several people, including protest leaders, have been arrested in the crackdown.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.