The resignation of the Sri Lankan Prime Minister signals the end of the Rajapaksa era? | Politics News
Colombia, Sri Lanka – With the resignation of Sri Lankan Prime Minister and two-time former Executive Chairman Mahinda Rajapksa in Colombo on Monday, the island nation is set to see the beginning of the end of the rule of Rajapaksas, one of the two most powerful ruling political dynasties. – independence of Sri Lanka. But the country’s financial and political crises are far from over.
Thousands of protesters gather daily at a protest venue in the heart of Colombo, the Galle Face, to stage peaceful protests demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government as the country’s economy plunges sharply.
But violence erupted in Colombo on Monday when a group of Rajapaksa loyalists attacked protesters camping outside his official residence, Temple Trees, in Colombo. At least three people were killed as violence erupted on the Indian Ocean island. The island-wide curfew and the deployment of the army failed to prevent the violence.
The Rajapaksas have been harshly criticized for failing to take timely measures to control the economic collapse and to ensure the supply of essential goods to the 22 million inhabitants. For the past four months, the island has seen long queues for fuel and gas amid severe shortages of medical supplies and food. Growing criticism of the government had intensified calls for the collective resignation of all Rajapaksas.
The island’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen sharply and despite requests, multilateral donor agencies have failed to respond, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which has not offered a bailout. Sri Lanka defaulted on its $51 billion foreign debt last month.
A popular politician
Mahinda Rajapaksa is considered the most popular politician in the Rajapaksa family, but his reputation has taken a hit in recent months as allegations of corruption resurfaced – a key reason for the country’s economic crisis, protesters say.
Although popular and credited with ending the protracted war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who fought to carve out a flood homeland in the northeast of the island, the legacy Mahinda Rajapaksa’s politics are marred by corruption allegations, many of which refer to his extended family. like the “Marcos family” of Sri Lanka.
Following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Rajapaksa administration was accused of misappropriating tsunami funds intended for the affected population. Large-scale corruption allegations have also been leveled against the regime over military procurement during the years of civil war that ended in 2009.
The executive president’s two-term war victory is also seen by many as one that seriously divided the nation along ethnic lines and is marred by accusations of gross human rights abuses.
During his first term, from 2005 to 2010, Rajapaksa’s administration was accused of committing crimes against humanity during the final phase of the war in May 2009, when the UN found that an estimated 40,000 Tamil civilians had perished while seeking safe passage.
The 76-year-old veteran politician was elected in 1970 to his father Beliatta’s electorate in the Deep South at the age of 24. He was defeated in 1977 when the United National Party recorded a landslide victory and returned to parliament in 1989.
He first became the island’s prime minister in 2004 by a narrow margin of less than 200,000 votes against rival Ranil Wickremesinghe, and a year later was elected the country’s fifth executive president and remained in office. until his surprise defeat in 2015. to his former party secretary Maithripala Sirisena.
Rajapaksa served as leader of the opposition between 2018 and 2019. Importantly, he served as finance minister from 2019 to 2021 until his brother Basil Rajapaksa assumed the powerful finance portfolio. Basil Rajapaksa resigned a month ago amid widespread corruption allegations that have laid the groundwork for a popular uprising against the administration – but more so, against the family rule.
On May 3, a motion of no confidence was tabled in parliament against the Rajapaksa administration. Last week, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa reportedly asked his older brother to step down to deal with the political crisis.
Instead of dealing with the current twin crises of financial and political collapse, the administration has focused on changing the balance of power in parliament, with plans to appoint a new prime minister to form an interim government. However, the public rose strongly against this approach and intensified their calls for the resignation of the president and the prime minister.
Violence has erupted in other parts of the country targeting Rajapaksa loyalists, including former ministers, following attacks on peaceful protesters.
“This is what happens when love turns to hate. Mahinda was a long-time much-loved, respected and trusted politician, despite many questions about his considerable personal wealth which did not match his lifestyle before. 2005. There is a time to come and a time to leave. If they don’t leave, people force them to leave,” said Aruna Nishantha, an anti-Rajapaksa protester, who was waiting outside the Colombo National Hospital where injured protesters received emergency treatment.