COLOMBO — Sri Lankan leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday sacked two of his brothers and a nephew from his cabinet after public anger over the ruling family’s mishandling of a crippling economic crisis and called for his resignation.
President Rajapaksa has presided over the island nation’s most painful downturn, and his government is preparing for upcoming bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund.
Scores of lawmakers have turned against the government and opposition parties have refused invitations from the president to join a unity government, which insists he will remain in office to guide Sri Lanka through the crisis.
Huge protests nonetheless called for Rajapaksa’s resignation, including tens of thousands of people who camped outside his seaside office for more than a week.
The new cabinet retains Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya’s older brother and head of Sri Lanka’s ruling clan, while leaving out older brother Chamal and younger brother Basil, the former finance minister.
Mahinda’s eldest son Namal, who headed the sports ministry and had been touted as the future leader before the crisis, was also sacked.
The 21-member cabinet is seven fewer than its predecessor, who resigned en masse two weeks ago in response to public outrage over nepotism and corruption.
Ministers are entitled to several SUVs, a large contingent of bodyguards and unlimited fuel, as well as government subsidies for housing and entertainment.
New Treasury Secretary Ali Sabry led a delegation to Washington over the weekend to start talks with the International Monetary Fund starting Tuesday, officials said.
Sri Lanka is asking the IMF for 3 to 4 billion dollars to get out of its balance of payments crisis and replenish its depleted reserves.