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Colombo: A delegation of the ruling SLPP coalition dissidents representing the former President Maithripala Sirisena-led SLFP, has met the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay and briefed him on the current political impasse in the country and plans for an interim government arrangement to address the worst economic meltdown.

Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), one of the ruling Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP) constituent parties, briefed Baglay here on Thursday, on the eve of a crucial meeting being hosted by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to discuss the formation of an all-party government to address the economic crisis.

Sri Lanka is currently in the throes of unprecedented economic turmoil since its independence from Britain in 1948.

The crisis is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices.

We met the Indian High Commissioner to brief him on the interim government arrangement,” SLFP general secretary Dayasiri Jayasekera told PTI.

We described to him our idea for an all-party interim government,” Jayasekera said after meeting Baglay.

It is not an arrangement to share the plum of office but to pull the country out of the economic mess. We have a responsibility as parliamentarians, Jayasekera said.

He said the SLFP and the rest of the SLPP dissidents numbering 50 would meet President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday in response to his letter two days ago in which he had invited the ruling coalition’s member parties to talk about a possible interim government.

However, they have said that they will be going for the meeting but under one condition it has to be without the presence of the prime minister (Mahinda Rajapaksa) and the Cabinet.

Asked if the prime minister would resign to pave the way for the formation of the interim government, Jayasekera said it was unlikely.

The Rajapaksa family is coming under increasing pressure to resign with tens of thousands of protesters camping permanently outside the presidential secretariat for three weeks now.

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s official residence is also surrounded by protesting youth who have asked him to resign.

Debt-ridden Sri Lanka is grappling with an unprecedented economic turmoil since its independence from Britain in 1948. The crisis is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices.

Sri Lanka needs at least USD 4 billion to tide over its mounting economic woes, and talks with international institutions such as the World Bank as well as countries like China and Japan for financial assistance have been going on.

Sri Lankan officials were in Washington last week to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout.

India has agreed to extend an additional USD 500 million credit line to help Sri Lanka import fuel. New Delhi has also already agreed to defer USD 1.5 billion in import payments that Sri Lanka needs to make to the Asian Clearing Union.

Last week, the Sri Lankan government said it would temporarily default on USD 35.5 billion in foreign debt as the pandemic and the war in Ukraine made it impossible to make payments to overseas creditors.

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