To disperse protestors who tried to enter the presidential office demanding that he resign due to the country's ongoing economic crisis, police in Sri Lanka used water cannons and tear gas on Saturday.
Demonstrators were gathering to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the protests during which they have occupied President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office. The police broke up the protest and briefly held three people before releasing them.
Sri Lanka is in danger of going bankrupt after it defaulted on foreign loans. It is also facing severe shortages of essential goods such as fuel, cooking gas and medicines. Many still have no money and are forced to stand in long lines for hours to purchase goods.
Also, the country's foreign currency reserves are now only sufficient to buy two weeks worth of imports.
Last month, authorities announced that they would suspend repayments of $7 billion in foreign debt. Sri Lanka must pay $25 billion by 2026. The Indian Ocean island nation has $51 billion in total foreign debt.
Protesters claim Rajapaksa's family is responsible for the current economic crisis. They accuse Rajapaksa of corruption and mismanagement.
On May 9, Rajapaksa supporters attacked peaceful protesters, triggering violence across the country. Nine people, including a lawmaker from the ruling party, were killed. The homes of current ministers were also set on fire. After Mahinda Rajapaksa's brother, the president, resigned amid violence, it almost ended the Rajapaksa family.
Three siblings of the president and a nephew had already resigned their Cabinet positions.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, the new Prime Minister, has stated that he will prepare an economic reform plan within two weeks in order to get approval from International Monetary Fund for a bailout package.