By Ayeshea Perera
(BBC News) – Sri Lankans have criticised a Wednesday night speech by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in which he ignored calls to resign and vowed to restore order.
In his first national address since protests began last month, he offered to cede some of the presidency’s power to parliament, but set no timetable.
Sri Lankans who have been calling for him to resign over an unprecedented economic crisis were unimpressed.
Many said the speech failed to address the real issues.
“Where were you for the last 30 days? People don’t have medicine, people don’t have food, the entire country’s at a standstill,” Kavindya Thennakoon, a protester in Colombo, told the BBC.
“The reforms he’s suggesting are not what we need. What we need right now is for [the president] to resign from office… It baffles my mind that Gotabaya Rajapaksa doesn’t understand that.”
On social media, many referred to the resignation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa – the president’s brother – earlier this week as they called for him to quit too. “One down. One more to kick out,” read one tweet on Thursday morning.
“You should have advised your ministers and your own brother Mahinda against influencing their goons to initiate a wave of terror. If not for their stupidity, Sri Lanka would not have experienced a wave of violence,” another tweet read.
Weeks of peaceful protests against the government turned violent on Monday, after supporters of Mahinda Rajapaksa attacked anti-government demonstrators and destroyed two protest sites where thousands had congregated.