Timeline of the crisis in Sri Lanka, a look at the painful recession in the country



Sri Lanka is mired in a deep political and economic crisis, and on Wednesday the country’s president flew out of the country days after a huge crowd of protesters broke into his residence.

The island nation of 22 million has suffered months of prolonged power outages, severe food and fuel shortages and runaway inflation during the most painful recession on record.

Months of protests have demanded the president’s resignation Gotabaya Rajapaksawhose government is accused of chronically mismanaging the country’s finances.

Looking back at how the crisis unfolded:

April 1: state of emergency

Rajapaksa declares a temporary state of emergency, giving Sri Lankan security forces sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects after a wave of protests.

April 3: Cabinet resigns.

Almost the entire cabinet of Sri Lanka resigns at a night meeting, leaving Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda, the prime minister, in isolation.

The central bank governor, resisting calls to seek help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), announces his resignation a day later.

April 5: President loses majority

President Rajapaksa’s problems are exacerbated when Finance Minister Ali Sabri resigns just a day after his appointment.

The military leader is losing his parliamentary majority as former allies urge him to step down. He lifts the state of emergency.

April 10: drug shortage

Sri Lankan doctors say they are nearly out of life-saving medicines, warning the crisis could kill more people than the coronavirus.

April 12: External debt default

The government is defaulting on its $51 billion foreign debt as a “last resort” after running out of foreign exchange to import badly needed goods.

April 19: First victim

Police kill a protester, the first casualty in weeks of anti-government protests.

The next day, the IMF said it had asked Sri Lanka to restructure its colossal foreign debt before a bailout package could be agreed.

May 9: Violence Day

A mob of government supporters from the countryside on buses attack peaceful demonstrators camped outside the president’s office in Colombo.

Nine people were killed and hundreds more were injured in the reprisal attacks that followed, with mobs chasing the perpetrators of the violence and setting fire to the houses of legislators.

Mahinda Rajapaksa steps down as prime minister and is rescued by troops after thousands of protesters storm his residence in Colombo.

He is replaced by Ranil Wickremesinghe, a political veteran who has served several times as prime minister.

May 10: Order to shoot to kill

The Ministry of Defense orders troops to shoot anyone involved in looting or “harm to life.”

But protesters are defying a new government curfew that is being lifted at the end of the week.

A top police officer in Colombo was attacked and his car set on fire.

June 10: “Humanitarian emergency”

The United Nations warns that Sri Lanka is facing a severe humanitarian crisis and millions of people are already in need of assistance.

According to the UN, more than three-quarters of the population have reduced their food intake due to severe food shortages in the country.

June 27: Fuel sales are suspended.

The government says Sri Lanka is almost out of fuel and is halting all sales of gasoline except for essential services.

July 1: new inflation record

The government releases data showing that inflation hit a record ninth month in a row, a day after the IMF asked Sri Lanka to curb prices.

July 9: President’s house stormed.

President Rajapaksa flees his official residence in Colombo with the help of troops shortly before demonstrators storm the compound.

He is taken away in an unknown direction.

Footage from the residence shows cheering protesters jumping into the pool and exploring its stately bedrooms.

Wickremesinghe’s house is set on fire. Police say he and his family were not at the scene.

Rajapaksa later offers to step down on July 13, Parliament Speaker Mahinda Abeywardana said in a televised statement.

July 13: President flees the country

President Rajapaksa flies to the Maldives in a military plane, accompanied by his wife and bodyguard.

His departure came after a humiliating standoff at Colombo Airport, where immigration officials refused to allow VIP services and insisted that all passengers go through public counters.

According to a security official, the presidential party did not want to use conventional channels of communication for fear of public backlash.

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