Several workers’ unions in Sri Lanka participated in a strike on Thursday, demanding resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaka, The Hindu reported.

Sri Lanka is currently mired in public debt, leading to its worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948. With the country’s foreign currency reserves dwindling, Sri Lankans are facing shortages of medicines, milk powder, cooking gas, kerosene and other essential items.

On Thursday, thousands of healthcare professionals, education experts and transport sector employees took part in protest rallies and shouted anti-government slogans. Business districts in the capital city of Colombo were closed on account of the strike, the Associated Press reported. Doctors and nurses also said that they would support the protests during their lunch breaks.

Visuals by the News Wire showed a deserted street and closed shops in Colombo.

Ravi Kumudesh, the convenor of the collective of the protesting unions, said that if Rajapaksa does not resign within seven days, the unions will agitate “until he steps down”, according to The Hindu.

Rajapaksa has refused to resign, and has only offered to form a new all-party government with him as the president. The prime minister and Gotabaya’s brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has also refused to quit, and has claimed that he enjoys popular support.

On Thursday evening, 117 members of Parliament pledged their support to the brothers and said that they should continue, the Daily Mirror reported.

The Rajapaksa family has dominated Sri Lankan politics for two decades. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa are third-generation politicians. Seven members of the family hold top government posts, according to The New Indian Express.

Protestors march towards the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's house carrying a banner that reads, "Get rid of the government, change the system". Credit: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

‘Allow Tamil Nadu to send aid’, says CM

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Friday urged the Union government to allow the state to send humanitarian aid to the island country, PTI reported. He moved a resolution in the Assembly to press for the demand.

Stalin said that the state government is willing to send rice, pulses, milk and life-saving medicines to Sri Lanka. He claimed that he had already taken up the matter with the Union government, but had got no clear reply.