Former Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s Freedom Party has called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to form a multi-party government to overcome the island nation’s worst economic crisis and said he could leave the alliance if his request was ignored.

Sri Lanka is currently experiencing the worst economic crisis in its history. With long queues for fuel, cooking gas, shortages of basic necessities and long hours of power cuts, the public has been suffering for weeks.

Party General Secretary and Minister of State Dayasiri Jayasekera said the Central Committee decided on Friday to call for the formation of an all-party government in parliament.

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The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) with 14 MPs is the largest group within the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) coalition.

Sirisena is the president of the SLPP but he is not a minister.

“We have entrusted the party leaders to decide whether the SLFP will leave the government if the government ignores our request to form a multi-party government,” Jayasekera said.

The SLPP coalition, an 11-party alliance, has recently struggled.

Two of the 11 party leaders were sacked as cabinet ministers while another cabinet member joined them in criticizing the government’s handling of the economic crisis.

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On Thursday evening, a large demonstration outside Rajapaksa’s private residence led to mass arrests. They held signs calling ‘Gota go home’, blaming him for the difficulties.

In light of the protests, the President has declared a nationwide public state of emergency with immediate effect beginning April 1.

Rajapaksa defended his government’s actions, saying the currency crisis was not his fault and the economic downturn was largely due to a pandemic where the island’s tourism revenue and inbound remittances have decreases.

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