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Crisis-hit Sri Lanka is down to its last day of petrol, the newly-elected prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said and hinted that it is likely to get worse in the coming days. Earlier, the power minister urged citizens not to join the lengthy fuel queues that have galvanised weeks of anti-government protests.

"At the moment, we only have petrol stocks for a single day. The next couple of months will be the most difficult ones of our lives," he said.

"We must prepare ourselves to make some sacrifices and face the challenges of this period."

He further stressed that two shipments of petrol and two of diesel using an Indian credit line could provide relief in the next few days. He further pointed out the country is also facing a shortage of 14 essential medicines.

What led to the crisis in Srilanka?

Hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, rising oil prices and populist tax cuts, Sri Lanka is in the midst of a crisis unparalleled since its independence in 1948. A chronic foreign exchange shortage has led to rampant inflation and shortages of medicine, fuel and other essentials, bringing thousands out on the streets in protest.

The economic crisis in the country led to widespread protests against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his family. The fighting between government supporters and protesters killed 9 people and wounded 300. Following this, prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was forced to resign and Wickremesinghe was appointed as the new PM.

But the protesters have said they will keep up their campaign as long as Gotabaya Rajapaksa remains president. They have also labelled Wickremesinghe a stooge and criticised his appointment of four cabinet minister, all members of the political party run by the Rajapaksa brothers.

Amid the crisis, Power Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said, "Request the public not to queue up or top up in the next three days until the 1,190 fuel station deliveries have been completed."

 

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