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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Lanka Eyeing Change Of Guard?

members of the Rajapaksa family are occupying top positions in the country’s political leadership. The President, the Prime Minister, and the finance minister are all brothers. There are more Rajapakshas in the government and the Sri Lankan Parliament. And, they have been there for a long time. For example, current Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksha who assumed power in 2019 had been the President from 2005 to 2015. During his tenure as the President, Sri Lanka waged a conclusive war on LTTE.

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All is not well in Sri Lanka, as the people seem to be losing confidence in their government. After the recent economic crisis, the country has now also plunged into a political crisis. On Monday, news reports said that the entire Sri Lankan Cabinet has resigned. There were also rumours that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had resigned or would resign soon but his office denied the rumours. Another rumour that India had sent its military personnel to help the Sri Lankan authorities maintain peace and order was also denied. Various rumours are doing the rounds in an environment where President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has imposed a state of emergency, banned people from coming out of their homes from Friday evening to Monday morning, and briefly suspended social media. Interestingly, Sri Lankan economic crisis and people’s protests leading to a general emergency in the country have not found much coverage in the international media, which remains preoccupied with the Russia-Ukraine armed conflict.

As has been widely reported, members of the Rajapaksa family are occupying top positions in the country’s political leadership. The President, the Prime Minister, and the finance minister are all brothers. There are more Rajapakshas in the government and the Sri Lankan Parliament. And, they have been there for a long time. For example, current Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksha who assumed power in 2019 had been the President from 2005 to 2015. During his tenure as the President, Sri Lanka waged a conclusive war on LTTE. Notably, his regime is marked by gross violations of human rights and infringement of press freedom. So far, the Rajapaksa family has been able to rule the country without much trouble as they were using the China card against India. All in all, the Rajapaksa brothers must share some blame for pushing the country into the deep economic mess that it finds itself today.

Nayib Bukele, president of the fifth-poorest country in Central America El Salvador, last year announced the onboarding of bitcoin as the legal tender. To beat IMF’s coercion for a USD 1 billion loan, Bukele announced USD 1 billion worth of bitcoin bonds. The point is a President or a Prime Minister has to act on behalf of the people and if it takes mocking the world or breaking a few taboos and glass ceilings, they are expected to do so, in a style that Bukele has illustrated by adopting bitcoin. What could be the road ahead for Sri Lanka now? The outbreak of Covid has left many countries with serious economic problems. Take, for example, countries whose economies depended on the sale of crude oil. All of them devised new strategies to overcome the odds brought by the pandemic. The Sri Lankan economy needs to be reimagined and the tourism concepts need to be revisited. But does Mahinda Rajapaksa have so much drive and flexibility left in him to imagine these projects and make them happen? More importantly, will the people allow him to continue in power until then? A regime change promises new energy, dynamism, and fresh perspective. Perhaps, sensing this, his son Namal Rajapaksa has sounded a discordant note and protested the ban on social media by his uncle, President Gotabaya. It’s about time that the patriarchs in Sri Lanka’s ruling family gave way to the new generation of leaders.

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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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