Power vacuum continues in Sri Lanka

Power vacuum continues in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka was in a political vacuum for a second day Monday as opposition leaders tried to agree on who should replace highly unpopular leaders. Protesters outraged at the economic hardship have occupied the official residences of the president and prime minister. The dissidents were still in the residence of the president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, his office by the sea and the official home of the prime minister, which they invaded on Saturday between demands that the two leaders resign. It was the largest and most significant day of protests in the last three months in the administrative district of the capital, Colombo. They were still there on Monday, saying they would not leave until the resignations were official.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Saturday he would step down when there is a new government, and hours later the speaker of parliament said Rajapaksa would step down on Wednesday. The president’s whereabouts were unknown, although a statement from his office said Sunday that he had ordered the immediate public distribution of a shipment of cooking gas, suggesting he was still working. Pressure on the two men had grown as the economic collapse caused severe shortages of basic goods. People were having trouble getting food, fuel, and other essentials.

Opposition party leaders were negotiating the formation of an alternative all-party government, an urgent need for the bankrupt country to continue talks with the International Monetary Fund on a bailout program. MP Udaya Gammanpila said the main opposition group, the United Popular Front, and MPs who had defected from Rajapaksa’s governing coalition were in dialogue and had agreed to work together. The main opposition leader, Sajith Premadasa, and Dullas Alahapperuma, who was a Rajapaksa minister, had been proposed as president and prime minister, and were asked to decide how to share the posts before a meeting on Monday with the parliament speaker.

“We cannot be in an anarchic situation. Somehow we have to reach a consensus today,” Gammanpila said.

The country relies on aid from India and other countries as its authorities try to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund. Wickremesinghe recently said the talks were complex because Sri Lanka is now a bankrupt state.

Sri Lanka announced in April the suspension of the payment of foreign loans due to the shortage of foreign exchange. Its total external debt amounts to 51,000 million dollars, of which it must pay 28,000 million by the end of 2027. Months of protests have all but dismantled the Rajapaksa political dynasty, which has ruled Sri Lanka for most of the past two decades, but protesters accuse it of mismanagement and corruption. The president’s older brother resigned as prime minister in May after violent protests prompted him to seek refuge at a naval base.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.