Sri Lanka Protesters Attempt to Storm Presidential Office

A huge crowd tried to storm the Sri Lankan president’s seaside office on Tuesday following a dramatic price increase of basic goods labeled as the worst financial crisis in the country’s history.

“These people have come here to tell the president to go home if he can’t solve the unprecedented economic problems faced by ordinary people,” said SJB lawmaker Harin Fernando, as the crowd chanted calls for Rajapaksa’s resignation.

The main opposition party SJB led a march of hundreds of protesters in Colombo, which surrounded the Presidential secretariat and clashed with heavily armed police.

Earlier, a critical foreign currency shortage in the country has left traders unable to pay for imports, and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa spoke to a visiting International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation to discuss solutions to the worsening economic situation.

Shortly after the meeting, protesters blocked several busy streets in the capital despite weeks of severe disruptions to public transport caused by fuel shortages.

In a brief statement on Monday, the IMF said it had not been asked for a bailout but was “ready to discuss options if requested.”

Last week, Sri Lanka allowed the rupee to float, a move that saw the currency nosedive 25pc against the dollar and triggered a fresh wave of price increases.

It followed calls by the IMF for a currency devaluation and higher taxes to revive the economy.

Meanwhile, international rating agencies downgraded Sri Lanka, blocking its access to commercial borrowings, and raised concerns about the government’s ability to service its $51 billion external debt.

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