Sri Lanka, which is mired in a deep political and economic crisis, has announced it is suspending payments on its $51bn foreign debt.
The island nation of 22 million people is experiencing acute shortages of food, fuel and other essentials, a crisis that has inflicted widespread misery in the worst downturn since independence from the United Kingdom in 1948.
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The South Asian country emerged from a devastating civil war in 2009, only to be rocked by Easter Sunday church bombings in 2019 before being hit hard the following year by the COVID-19 pandemic, which torpedoed its vital tourism sector.
Here is how the crisis has unfolded in recent days:
March 31: President’s home threatened
Hundreds of protesters, rallied by unidentified social media activists, try to storm the home of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, demanding his resignation.
Police fire tear gas and water cannon, and at least one man is critically injured. The capital is placed under curfew.
April 1: State of emergency
As protests spread, Rajapaksa declares a state of emergency, giving security forces sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects.
April 2: Troops deployed, curfew
Sri Lanka declares a 36-hour nationwide curfew and deploys troops.
The order takes effect at dusk and was to be lifted on the morning of April 4, police say – a period that covers planned mass anti-government protests.
April 3: Cabinet resigns
The government briefly blocks access to social media before the ban is lifted following a ruling by the country’s Human Rights Council.
Trading is halted on Sri Lanka’s stock exchange.
The governor of the central bank, having resisted calls to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), announces his resignation.
April 5: President loses majority
Rajapaksa’s problems deepen as Finance Minister Ali Sabry resigns just a day after he was appointed.
April 7: Debt restructure plea
Rajapaksa appoints an expert panel to organise a debt restructure as ratings agencies warn of a looming default.
April 8: Record rate hike
The country’s central bank hikes interest rates by a record 700 basis points in a bid to halt the free fall of the Sri Lankan rupee, which has plunged more than 35 percent in a month.
April 9: Biggest street protest
Tens of thousands march on the beleaguered president’s office in the biggest protest to date, demanding for Rajapaksa to resign.