(Al Jazeera) Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has dropped his brother as finance minister after calling for a unity government as protests against an economic crisis persist and cracks emerge in the ruling coalition.
The debt-laden country, run by Rajapaksa and his brothers in top positions, is struggling to pay for imports of fuel and other goods due to a scarcity of foreign exchange, leading to hours-long power cuts and a shortage of essentials.
Street protests against the government continued on Monday with crowds gathering in several towns, including in southern Tangalle where people holding posters and the national flag broke through police barricades, local media reported.
“Four ministers were appointed to ensure parliament and other tasks can be conducted in a lawful manner until a full Cabinet can be sworn in,” Rajapaksa’s media office said in a statement on Monday after cabinet ministers resigned in a bid to resolve the crisis.
It said Justice Minister Ali Sabry would be the new finance minister, replacing Gotabaya’s brother Basil Rajapaksa, who was due to visit the United States this month for talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan programme.
Previous ministers of foreign affairs, education and highways will keep their positions.