Over the past several weeks, Sri Lanka has turned into a battleground where citizens are waging a war against its president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government.
The people wants the president to quit
They call him a “thief”, a “lunatic” and a “fail.” And they want him to “go home.” The people of Sri Lanka are pissed with their government – and they’re not backing down.
Sri Lanka faces an unprecedented economic crisis after it ran out of foreign currency reserves and can’t afford essential imports such as fuel.
The island’s people are facing acute shortages of basics such as food, oil and paper along with soaring inflation, which is at 17.5 percent – among the 11 worst in the world.
The South Asian island nation of 22 million has been grappling with a foreign exchange crisis and acute shortages of basic necessities for months. Tensions have been simmering as queues for food and fuel lead to deaths. Power cuts go on for several hours a day, crippling many facilities including hospitals.
At the center is the Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his family the country’s most powerful political dynasty.
The Rajapaksas have held top political roles over the last two decades. Their regime is marred by a history of corruption, allegations of human rights abuses, and policy mismanagement.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his family are the most powerful political dynasty in Sri Lanka and have held top political seats for nearly two decades. Calls for his resignation expose a long, chequered history of corruption, mishandling of food and agricultural policies, and debt restructuring, among others.
Hundreds of thousands came out to protest!
In the last several days, hundreds of thousands defied curfew and state of emergency – which gives the army the authority to arrest civilians.
Last week, dozens were arrested after a protest outside Rajapaksa’s private mansion near the capital city of Colombo went violent. Thousands attempted to storm the mansion by pelting stones and breaking down police barricades.
26 ministers resigned at once, but not the president.
As the #gohomegota protests grew in scale on Sunday, 26 ministers announced their resignations but not president Rajapaksa or his brother Mahinda, who is the prime minister. Rajapaksa, instead, offered to share power with the opposition on Monday.
After the protesters attempted to storm Rajapaksa’s home last week, a curfew and a state of emergency were imposed. Police used tear gas and water cannons at protesters in Kandy.
Hidden wealth worth $18 billion!!
Recent investigations show a history of the Rajapaksa family stashing away wealth and accumulating assets. The family’s assets are reported to be around $18 billion, which the family denies. Even now, as the whole country went through power cuts to save on electricity reserves, the Rajapaksa family’s home (among other parliamentarians’) were exempted.
The crisis has hit on multiple fronts, which, in turn, has crippled the country’s ability to pay off its massive debt to international creditors. #SriLanka has a total debt of $7 billion, out of which it has to repay $4 billion this year.