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Roving Periscope: Lanka talks for $ 1 bn swaps with India; ‘Not sending troops’, says New Delhi

Roving Periscope: Lanka talks for $ 1 bn swaps with India; ‘Not sending troops’, says New Delhi


Virendra Pandit


New Delhi: As Sri Lanka’s fugitive President Gotabaya Rajapaksa offered to quit on Wednesday, and embattled Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced resignation once a new government is formed, the Cabinet ministers also said they would go after an all-party government is formed.

The media reported on Monday the island nation’s central bank is talking with India over a USD 1 billion deal of swapping currencies. Meanwhile, India has denied rumors it could send in troops to bring normalcy to the island nation.

Thousands of angry protesters, who hit the streets, stormed the President’s House, forcing Gotabaya to flee, and set afire Wickremesinghe’s private residence last weekend, continued to occupy the two premises—and picnicked there. They will stay there until the two quit office, the anti-government protest leaders said on Sunday.

The media, quoting PM Wickremesinghe’s office, reported on Monday that Sri Lanka’s entire Cabinet of ministers agreed to resign once they agree on the formation of an all-party interim government.

Sri Lankan Central Bank Governor P. Nandalal Weerasinghe said negotiations with India are in progress over a USD 1 billion swap. Asked if he would also resign, he said he has a responsibility since he took on the six-year term in April and he would complete that.

Early on Monday, President Rajapaksa informed the outgoing PM that he would resign on Wednesday, the PMO said. Wickremesinghe, too, announced that he would resign as soon as a new government is formed.

After the President and the PM agreed on Sunday to resign, the opposition parties decided to form an all-party interim government.

Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka categorically dismissed for the second time in as many months the speculative media reports about New Delhi sending its troops to Colombo, where thousands of angry protesters stormed embattled President Rajapaksa’s official residence and set Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s house on fire amidst the ongoing economic crisis.

“The High Commission would like to categorically deny speculative reports in sections of media and social media about India sending her troops to Sri Lanka. These reports and such views are also not in keeping with the position of the Government of India,” the Indian High Commission said in a tweet late on Sunday.

“The Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India clearly stated today that India stands with the people of Sri Lanka as they seek to realize their aspirations for prosperity & progress through democratic means & values, established institutions & constitutional framework,” it said.

The protesters insisted they would leave the two premises only after securing the President and the PM’s resignations.

“The President has to resign, the Prime Minister has to resign, and the government has to go,” playwright Ruwanthie de Chickera, one of the leaders of the protest movement, said during a press conference.




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