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Church leaders join calls for Sri Lankan govt to quit

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith says the nation needs a fresh start amid the worsening economic crisis

Church leaders join calls for Sri Lankan govt to quit

Protesters including priests and nuns march with posters and black flags calling on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government to resign in Negombo on April 9. (Photo: UCA News)

Published: April 11, 2022 09:41 AM GMT

Updated: April 11, 2022 10:18 AM GMT

Thousands of Christians took to the streets in cities across Sri Lanka calling for the government to resign as the country faces its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.

Protesters including priests and nuns marched with posters, banners and flags calling on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government to quit as the crisis worsens, but the president has remained steadfast in refusing to step down.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the outspoken archbishop of Colombo, and interfaith leaders joined protesters in Negombo on April 9 and said the country needs a fresh start with major changes.

"Hand over the country to someone who can govern it and people should have the courage to take action to eradicate the corrupt system," the cardinal said.

"Some of the Rajapaksa family members who stole money from the country have already fled Sri Lanka.”

Protesters gathered in parish churches with their priests before marching along the main roads leading to Negombo chanting slogans.

"Yesterday I read in the newspaper that a beggar in India was giving some of the money he had collected to Sri Lanka. It means that we have fallen beyond the status of beggars"

"Now our foreign minister and our finance minister have to go and ask for a loan from the International Monetary Fund," said Cardinal Ranjith.

"Yesterday I read in the newspaper that a beggar in India was giving some of the money he had collected to Sri Lanka. It means that we have fallen beyond the status of beggars.

"We urge all citizens of the country to work together to change the system. Please come together and tell these politicians to go." 

Salman Maulavi, a Muslim cleric, said the government has been cursed by God.

"The people of the country today line up in queues from morning till evening to buy fuel and other essentials," Salman told a gathering in Negombo. "We urge the government to listen to the voices of the people who say no to all 225 lawmakers.”

Sri Lankans living in European countries have also organized protests in support of their homeland in the face of the worsening economic crisis

The weeks-long protests against the government near the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo have continued despite heavy rains. Crowds gathered from 9am on April 9 chanting slogans and displaying placards.

Protesters have said they will not give up the fight until the president steps down.

Many bishops, priests and nuns have joined the protests. Bishop Cletus Chandrasiri Perera of Ratnapura, Bishop Winston S. Fernando of Badulla and Bishop Norbert Andradhi of Anuradhapura protested on the streets with the faithful on April 9.

"Make the decisions that the people of the country demand now," said Bishop Andradhi.

Sri Lankans living in European countries have also organized protests in support of their homeland in the face of the worsening economic crisis that has seen steep inflation, shortages of goods and daily power cuts.

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