President Gotabaya Rajapaksa speaks during an event. File photo
Twenty-six ministers in the cabinet — all members except President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his elder brother Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa — submitted letters of resignation at a late-night meeting on Sunday.
The move clears the way for the president to appoint a new cabinet on Monday -- possibly including some of those who quit — as the ruling political clan seeks to shore up its position in the face of the economic crisis.
Protestors hold banners and placards during a demonstration in Colombo. AFP
The country is in the grip of an unprecedented shortage of food, fuel and other essentials -- along with record inflation and crippling power cuts with no sign of an end to the economic woes.
The situation is acknowledged by the government as the worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948, and it has announced it will seek a bailout from the IMF.
Troops and police were placed on a high state of alert as a 36-hour curfew ended at dawn Monday despite intelligence reports warning of more unrest, a top security official told AFP.
"Indications are that we can expect more demonstrations," he said, reiterating that the military has been empowered to detain suspects under a state of emergency declared on Friday.
Sri Lanka's main opposition parliament members shout slogans as they protest in Colombo on Sunday. AFP
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa imposed the emergency a day after a crowd attempted to storm his home in the capital Colombo.
Throughout Sunday evening, hundreds of people staged noisy but peaceful demonstrations in towns across the island of 22 million denouncing Rajapaksa's handling of the crisis.
"Go home Gota, go home Gota" shouted protesters at Rajagiriya, near the national parliament, while at Negombo, near the main international airport, people shouted, "Gota fail, fail, fail".
Sunday's full-day curfew prevented larger protests that had been organised through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, all of which were blocked by the government.
A Sri Lankan army soldier checks a vehicle at a checkpoint in Colombo. Reuters
The platforms were unlocked and the partial internet censorship ended after 15 hours as the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka ruled that the ban was illegal.
Activists said they will hold larger demonstrations in several key towns on Monday to force President Rajapaksa and his family to step down.
A junior coalition partner has announced it will quit the administration this week, a move that would weaken Rajapaksa's majority in the legislature.
Many economists say Sri Lanka's crisis has been exacerbated by government mismanagement, years of accumulated borrowing and ill-advised tax cuts.
Details of the latest emergency regulations were not yet made public, but previous emergency laws have given greater powers to the president to deploy the military, detain people without charge and break up protests.
Mahinda Rajapaksa's resignation came hours after clashes broke out in Colombo, where supporters of the ruling party stormed an anti-government protest camp and were beaten back by police using tear gas and water cannon.
The island nation has reiterated its commitment to repaying the entire $4 billion owed to investors in the rest of 2022 but in the absence of incoming dollars some analysts believe the country could face its first-ever default.
Also, for the first time in the history of the weekly draw, 7 Emirati second prize winners have topped the list of 22 Arab winners representing Lebanon, Jordan Syria, Egypt, Oman and Yemen.
"The 1.5 billion euros ($1.5 billion) was brought to the table today. It's money that will be used in 2022, this year and next year," Danish Defence Minister Morten said during a news conference.
Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Abdul Rahman Bin Qasmol, Acting Director of Wasit Comprehensive Police Station, honoured Ziyad Rashid Maydan in appreciation of his honesty and keenness to hand over a wallet containing official documents and a large sum of money, which he found in an area of Sharjah.