SRI LANKA PRESIDENT FLEES ON MILLITARY PLANE

Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp
  • SRI LANKA IS AN ISLAND NATION OFF SOUTHERN INDIA
  • PRESIDENT HAD BEEN WARNED TO RESIGN OR FACE MASS PROTESTS
  • PROTESTERS STORMED PRESIDENTIAL PALACE
  • PRESIDENT’S DEPARTURE WILL POSSIBLY CREATE A DANGEROUS POWER VACUUM

 

Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has fled the country on a military jet, after massive protests over his country’s economic crisis. The 73-year-old  Gotabaya arrived in the capital of the Maldives, Male, Tuesday afternoon. The president’s departure ends a familial dynasty that has ruled Sri Lanka for decades.

protesters relax in one of the bedrooms Protesters relaxing in palace bedroom. Image courtesy of The New York Times

Sri Lankans blame President Rajapaksa’s administration for their worst economic crisis in decades as her foreign currency reserves have virtually run dry. In May it failed to make a payment on its foreign debt for the first time in its history. The government blames the Covid pandemic, which affected Sri Lanka’s tourist trade, one of its biggest foreign currency earners. Sri Lanka is seeking to restructure debts of more than $50bn that it owes to foreign creditors, to make it more manageable to repay. The country’s economy has been hit hard by the pandemic and rising energy prices, but critics say the current crisis has been extended from the previous government’s own making. The main economic sectors of the country are tourism, tea export, apparel, textile, rice production and other agricultural products. In addition to these economic sectors, overseas employment contributes highly in foreign exchange with 90% of expatriate Sri Lankans residing in the Middle East. For months they have been struggling with daily power cuts and shortages of basics like fuel, food and medicines.

PROTESTERS  TOOK OVER THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE AND MADE MERRY

Over the weekend tens of thousands of protesters massed outside the President’s office and residence before breaking through security barriers. Striking images shared on social media show protestors singing protest songs and chanting slogans calling for Rajapaksa to resign. Other photos showed groups of demonstrators setting up barbecue pits to grill and cook food But the most dramatic footage showed protesters having a field day in the president’s private pool.

Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces spirited Rajapaksa away to a naval vessel minutes before protesters stormed his residence, a high-ranking military source told reporters. The president came down from his bedroom on the upper floor of the palace and exited the premises moments before the demonstrators broke the compound’s first barrier, the source added.

protesters gain access into president's residence Protesters force their way into president’s residence. Image courtesy of Washington Post

Rajapaksa was to officially step down on July 13, officials said, following an emergency meeting called by parliament speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena. Wickremesinghe posted on Twitter that he was stepping down “to ensure the continuation of the government including the safety of all citizens” but didn’t name a date. Four other ministers also stepped down on the weekend, the latest in an exodus of senior officials. On April 3, the Sri Lankan government’s entire cabinet was effectively dissolved due to mass resignations by top ministers.

Some 26 cabinet ministers stepped down that weekend, including the central bank governor as well as the President’s nephew, who criticized an apparent social media blackout as something he would “never condone.”
 Analysts and observers now say that parliament speaker Abeywardena will likely assume temporary charge of the country until the next president is elected by lawmakers to replace Rajapaksa and complete the rest of his term, due to end in 2024. The leader, who enjoys immunity from prosecution while he is president, is believed to have wanted to flee abroad before stepping down to avoid the possibility of arrest by the new administration.
He had been in hiding after crowds stormed his residence on Saturday and having a field day at the property, destroying furniture, and utilizing the swimming pool. His brother, former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, has also left the country and is said to be heading to the US.

shortage of essential commodities was a major trigger Fuel shortage among the causes of Sri Lanka unrest. Image courtesy of New York Times

POTENTIAL POWER VACUUM IN SRI LANKA

The president’s departure threatens a potential power vacuum in the country, which needs a functioning government to help start digging it out of financial ruin. Politicians from other parties have been talking about forming a new unity government but there is no sign they are near agreement yet. It’s also not clear if the public would accept what they come up with. Under the constitution, it’s the prime minister who should act in the president’s stead if the latter resigns.

The prime minister is considered the president’s deputy in parliament. However, Mr. Wickremesinghe is also deeply unpopular.  Protesters set fire to his private residence on Saturday though he and his family were luckily not inside and he said he would resign to make way for a unity government, but gave no date. That leaves the parliament’s speaker as the next most likely to step in as caretaker president, constitutional experts say. However, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena is an ally of the Rajapaksas therefore unclear whether the public would accept his authority.

Whoever does become acting president has 30 days to hold an election for a new president from among members of parliament. The winner of that vote could then see out the remainder of Mr. Rajapaksa’s term until late 2024. On Monday, the main opposition leader Sajith Premadasa told the press that he would be aiming for the presidency, but he also lacks public support and there is deep public suspicion of politicians in general.

The protest movement which has brought Sri Lanka to the brink of change also does not have an obvious contender for the country’s leadership. Whether other struggling countries will take a similar approach remains to be seen though this should be an eye-opener for both leaders and citizens of countries that have been mismanaged, mostly in Asia, Africa and South America.

Leave Comments

Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp

EXPLORE MORE NEWS

LONDON HIT BY FLOODS

Heavy rainfall has pounded London forcing two East London health facilities to ask patients to stay away as their emergency departments were heavily affected on

Read More »
Joe Biden in Jeddah

SAUDI ARABIA REFORMS ON TRACK

Saudi Arabia reforms have drawn huge international interest, especially from would-be investors, who wish to see a more liberal Kingdom embracing positive change. The Saudi

Read More »
Mike Sonko

THIS MAN SONKO

Mike Sonko once served as a member of parliament Impeached as Nairobi Governor in a plan he claims was hatched by the president Flashy lifestyle

Read More »

3 MORE MONTHS FOR JAH CURE

Jamaican star, Jah Cure was remanded back into custody in Amsterdam last week Monday and will likely stay behind bars for approximately 3 more months.

Read More »
Ernest Wilson

ERNEST WILSON DIES AT 69

Ernest Wilson, a founding member of the “Clarendonians“, died on Tuesday at the Kingston Public Hospital, his son Michael Wilson confirmed to the press. He

Read More »
marijuana

MARIJUANA TO BE LEGALIZED IN GERMANY

Party leaders in Germany’s incoming government coalition have reached an agreement to legalize marijuana nationwide. The legalization legislation is expected to be introduced during the

Read More »

MBAPPE’S TRANSFER DILEMMA

Mbappe’s transfer dilemma seems to have reached a dead end. It’s no secret that Kylian Mbappe wants to play for Real Madrid. The famous picture

Read More »

ample Article

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vestibulum risus nibh, interdum vel venenatis eu, faucibus sit amet ipsum. Aenean fermentum elit a sagittis suscipit.

Read More »
The Rock

THE PHENOMINAL ROCK

POSSIBLY THE HIGHEST PAID ACTOR IN THE WORLD MADE A FORTUNE FROM BOTH WRESTLING AND ACTING THE ROCK HOLDS DUAL CITIZENSHIP HAS HIS OWN MOVIE

Read More »

BARCELONA IN THE RED

Four seasons ago, four months after Barcelona’s historic 6-1 comeback in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, PSG took revenge by seizing the engineer

Read More »
Babu wanyonyi

BABU THE HUMAN OCTOPUS

BABU THE HUMAN OCTOPUS IS ALWAYS NEUTRAL BOOKMAKERS ARE SCARED OF BABU’S ACCURACY ARSENAL FANS NEVER TRUST BABU AND THEY DO SO UNFAIRLY BABU IS

Read More »
Frenkie de jong- Man United wish list

MAN UNITED AT CROSSROADS

MAN UNITED FRENKIE DE JONG PURSUIT BOOSTED UNITED FACE BRIGHTON THIS SUNDAY AFTERNOON LEROY SANE MIGHT BE AVAILABLE FOR UNITED SESKO UNAVAILABLE TILL NEXT SEASON

Read More »
Frenki deJong- wanted by tuchel

TUCHEL AND KLOPP WARY OF PEP

TUCHEL AND KLOPP ARE GOING FOR THE BEST TO COUNTER CITY FRENKIE DE JONG COULD TASTE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOOTBALL WITH CHELSEA CUCURELLA’S MOVE TO STAMFORD

Read More »

HOPE FOR NORTHERN WHITE RHINO

Three more northern white rhino embryos and greater diversity! On July 9th, the scientists and conservationists of Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (BioRescue),

Read More »