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Thousands protest poor economy and shortages in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Thousands of people on Tuesday protested in Sri Lanka’s capital against deteriorating economic conditions amid fuel and other shortages.

The demonstrations in Colombo were led by the country’s main opposition political party, the United People’s Force, which has blamed the economic crisis on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government.

The march came as Sri Lankan Parliament debated the national budget for 2022.

Sri Lankans supporting opposition leader Sajith Premadasa march during a protest against the government accusing it of not taking action to curb the rising cost of living in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Protesters said Rajapaksa’s policies have led to foreign reserves dwindling, high food prices, and shortages of essentials such as milk powder, cooking gas and fuel.

Opposition supporters claimed the government’s decision to turn the country toward organic farming and to ban chemical fertilizer imports has threatened to create a food crisis.

Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves dwindled to just two months worth of imports in August and the local rupee currency depreciated 7.4% against the U.S. dollar in the first eight months of this year, according to the World Bank.

The government tried price controls and even declared a stage of emergency appointing an ex-military officer in charge of essential services but has so far failed to keep prices under control or stop hoarding.

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