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Sri Lanka Economic Crisis Live Updates: Carrying placards and singing songs, thousands stage protest in Colombo

Food is kept on a placard as Muslim protestors Iftar (breaking of fast) during the holy month of Ramadan while they protest against Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa near the Presidential Secretariat. (Reuters)

Sri Lanka will need about $3 billion in external assistance over the next six months to help restore supplies of essential items including fuel and medicine, Finance Minister Ali Sabry told Reuters. “It’s a Herculean task,” said Sabry in his first interview since taking office this week, referring to finding $3 billion in bridge financing as the country readies for negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this month. The country will look to restructure international sovereign bonds and seek a moratorium on payments, and is confident it can negotiate with bondholders over a $1 billion payment due in July.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s central bank decided to hike interest rates by an unprecedented 700 basis points to tame high inflation amid the worst economic crisis that has led to protests across the country and put President Gotabaya Rajapaksa under mounting pressure to resign. The move comes as Sri Lanka’s main Opposition party SJB announced that it will move a no-confidence motion against the government of President Rajapaksa and is prepared to impeach the embattled leader if he fails to address the concerns of the public facing hardships due to the economic crisis.

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