Rajapaksa quits, makes way for new outfit - GulfToday

Rajapaksa quits, makes way for new outfit

Mahinda Rajapaksa

Mahinda Rajapaksa

The Sri Lankan economic meltdown has triggered a regime change as Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Monday. In his resignation letter, according to news agency Reuters, he said, “Multiple stakeholders have indicated the best solution to the present crisis is the formation of an interim all-party government.

Therefore, I have tendered my resignation so the next steps can be taken in accordance with the Constitution.” Prime Minister Rajapaksa stepping down was a result of nationwide people’s protest, and it was the demand of the people that the Rajapaksas should quit, including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The president, it looks like is biding his time. The government of the Rajapaksas cannot but fall because they have mismanaged the country and the economy. Their overbearing politics of the Rajapaksas because of the emphatic victory in the presidential election in 2019 and parliamentary election in 2020 seems to have led to the economic crisis. Sri Lanka was doing well in economic terms even during the long years – from the 1980s—of the internal ethnic war between the Sinhalas and the Tamils of the north and the activities of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE).

The war had ended in 2009. Mahinda Rajapaksa was the president then, and Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the defence minister. It is this victory that seemed to have made the Rajapaksas overconfident and they became democratically elected despots in their style of governance. But the economy does not respect political despots.

The Rajapaksas had pursued erratic policies like turning the whole of the country’s agriculture to go organic. The island country of 22 million people ended as an indebted country. Today, Sri Lanka has $50 million in foreign exchange to import oil, food and medicines. The people came out on the streets in sheer desperation and anger.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had imposed nationwide emergency, and nationwide curfew in the wake of protests leading to the resignation of his elder-brother, prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The people are demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as well, and he may have to quit office sooner or later.

The Rajapaksas have become unpopular, and the people’s woes and anger are overflowing. They seem to have lost the political trust they gained through the electoral victories.

The resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa can be described as the political debacle of the Rajapaksas. What is the silver lining in the Sri Lankan economic and political crisis is that the people have forced those in the government to respond, and they had to do so because they were fighting with their backs to the wall.

In our democratic age, with all its imperfections and faults, it is always moving to see dispossessed and unarmed people challenging the powerful people in high offices guarded by the police and the army. The people had nothing on their side except their helplessness. And it is noteworthy that the Rajapaksas have seen the writing on the wall, and though they have resisted change they conceded the demands of the people. The Rajapaksas still believe that they can salvage power through political cunning. It may not be possible to play political games any longer. Sri Lanka is literally reached the dregs as it were.

The country would need a new leadership, which is honest and able to turn the situation around. It will take a lot of effort and hard work for a new government to manage the situation in Sri Lanka. The main lesson from the troubles in Sri Lanka is that political errors can create financial crises, and the Rajapaksas have shown how things can go wrong.

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