Sri Lanka: The President is on the run, the Prime Minister’s house is on fire… What you need to know to understand the grave crisis the country is going through

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Soon the end of the Rajapaksa dynasty in Sri Lanka? After violent protests across the country over the weekend, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his Prime Minister announced their resignations. The climax of several months of economic and social crises.

The President fleeing his palace, and set fire to the Prime Minister’s house.. What is happening in Sri Lanka? Send He returns in five points to the popular demonstrations that lasted for months, which prompted the president to resign.

Economic crisis for several months

Generalized shortages, inflation and huge debts… Sri Lankans accuse President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his entourage of being responsible for the worst economic crisis the country has experienced since its independence in 1948.

According to Franceinfo, many shortages are widespread. Fuel shortages, daily power cuts, tourism downturn due to the global health crisis.. According to the Central Bank, consumer prices rose 54.6% in one year in June. The island of 22 million people has been unable to repay its $51 billion foreign debt since April, and is currently negotiating a rescue plan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Faced with these difficulties, 86% of families eat less or skip full meals, according to the World Food Program.

Already in May 2022, Olivier Gillard, a researcher and specialist in Asia at the University of Quebec in Montreal, alerted to the situation in an interview on Franceinfo: “Sri Lankans can no longer get medicines or access essential products, and they cannot afford them. Electricity or gasoline have been cut. Quite a few weeks ago.”

Rajapaksa dynasty and full powers

The powerful Rajapaksa family has dominated political life in Sri Lanka for decades. In November 2019, she returned to the presidency with Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the son of a former minister in the 1960s.

When Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected in 2019, his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa was appointed prime minister, as well as the minister of finance, urban planning and Buddhist affairs, according to France 24.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, he himself was president between 2005 and 2015. According to the scientistDuring his tenure, Sri Lanka had already secured large loans from China for disputed investments, which contributed to the country’s indebtedness.

The Rajapaksa dynasty occupies all the major positions of power. In 2019, the president’s older brother, Jamal Rajapaksa, was appointed Minister of Irrigation, Security, Interior and Disaster Management. His son Sachindra receives the position of Secretary of State for Agriculture. As for the prime minister’s son, he inherited the youth and sports portfolio. This concentration of power, along with political mismanagement, provokes a roar of opposition and public opinion.

Bloody riots in May 2022

Popular discontent has been simmering for several months. In addition to the mismanagement of the Covid crisis, the country was hit by a wave of eight simultaneous terrorist attacks in April 2019, which killed 258 people. In this context, tired of popular attrition, on April 9, tens of thousands demonstrated peacefully in the country, calling for the president’s resignation.

But the latter did not resign, and in the end it was his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who stepped down on May 9. Then violent clashes broke out between his supporters and anti-government protesters. The toll was 5 dead and 139 wounded.

The resignation of the President of the Republic Wednesday, July 13

Following the resignation of the president’s brother, a relative of the Rajapaksa clan, Ranil Wickremesinghe, was appointed prime minister on May 12. Having already held this position five times since 1993, the new head of government is already contested by the Sri Lankan people, particularly because he was the prime minister at the time of the 2019 attacks.

Economic and social fragility worsened, and finally a decisive demonstration erupted on Saturday 9 July. According to Reuters, several hundred protesters stormed the presidential palace located in Colombo, the economic capital of Sri Lanka, as well as briefing the Ministry of Finance and presidential offices. Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled his palace minutes before the palace was stormed.

Some protesters have streamed videos live on social media showing crowds roaming inside the palace, some even dunking their heads in the presidential pool or lying quietly in the residence’s bedrooms.

The private home of the Prime Minister was also stormed in his absence, and they “set it on fire” according to the Prime Minister’s services.

The end of a dynasty?

“To ensure a peaceful transition, the president said he would step down on July 13,” Mahinda Abiordana said on television. The Prime Minister also submitted his resignation, but what about the succession?

To ensure the continuation of government including the safety of all citizens, I accept the best recommendation of the party leaders today, to make way for an all-party government.

To facilitate this, I will resign from my position as Prime Minister.

– Ranil Wickremesinghe (@RW_UNP) July 9, 2022

according to the scientistThe demonstrators remain on standby as long as the politicians’ resignations are not registered. The protests may continue in the capital until the formation of a new government.

In the event of the resignation of the two main political figures of the country, the Speaker of Parliament must exercise the presidency temporarily for a period of 30 days. During this period, MPs will have to appoint a new president within the assembly to ensure the end of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s term, until 2024.

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