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The Resignation of the Sri Lankan Prime Minister and the Possibility of a Temporary Government?

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Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, known as the most powerful name in Sri Lankan politics, resigned on 9 May 2022.[1] His spokesperson, Rohan Veliuita, was the first to share the news. His decision to resign came shortly after clashes broke out between Mahinda supporters and anti-government protesters. During the clashes, two people, including a member of parliament from the ruling party, were killed and hundreds of people were injured. In fact, Rajapaksa made his best efforts to retain power. However, after the economic crisis in the country, public demonstrations and recent conflicts, he failed to maintain his power. As a matter of fact, Rohan announced that Mahinda had resigned to pave the way for the establishment of a “new coalition government”.

Mahinda submitted his resignation letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is also his brother. The people of the country have been protesting the massive corruption of the ruling party, money laundering abroad and the uncontrolled rise in commodity prices for the past few weeks. It has already been reported that the country went bankrupt due to foreign debt. In short, the country’s economy collapsed due to foreign debt and widespread corruption. For this reason, the people of the country organized protest demonstrations with various demands, including the resignation of the government. The protests in question are still continuing.

According to international media reports, some of the protesters were shot dead near the capital, Colombo. Despite the nationwide curfew declared to stop the violence, the demonstrations did not end. In addition, Yoshitha Rajapaksa, the second son of Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chief of Staff, left the country with his wife. The Daily Mirror announced that they were passing through Bandaranaike International Airport to Singapore. According to the general opinion, Yoshitha was sent from the country by his father. Because it is a reasonable possibility that Mahinda will send her son and daughter-in-law safely abroad to prevent harm to his family.[2]

Mahinda’s resignation paved the way for the formation of a new unity government. As a matter of fact, a call was made for the establishment of a provisional government. However, the opposition has not yet given a clear answer to this. As will be remembered, on May 6, 2022, the President of Sri Lanka suggested to his brother to resign in order to resolve the ongoing political crisis.

In summary, Sri Lanka is now officially bankrupt as it has built an economy dependent on foreign debt. The country has 5.1 billion loan debt. It does not seem possible to repay this loan. Moreover, there has been a shortage of electricity in the country for months. There are extremely price increases for food, fuel and medical equipment. Therefore, although some products are available in the market, their prices increase rapidly. Under these circumstances, it is normal for ordinary people to experience distress. As a matter of fact, due to the public movement, some members of the ruling party, legendary former cricketers, doctors and 24 former ministers who resigned from the cabinet reacted to the situation. Protesters have been protesting in front of Gotabia Rajapaksa’s office since April 9, 2022. Pro-government groups attacked the tents here.[3] Mahinda Rajapaksa, on the other hand, did not resign until the aforementioned events. On the contrary, he said that the people should act cautiously. While the aforementioned developments are taking place; Julie Chung, Ambassador of the United States of America (USA) to Sri Lanka, demanded that the violence be fully investigated and that those responsible for the violence be arrested and brought to justice.[4]

As a result, Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence in 1947. Demonstrations have been held in various cities of the country since 9 April 2022 to protest the shortage of imported food, fuel and medicine. At this point, it should be noted that; holding new parliamentary elections is not a permanent solution either. Because the power in the hands of the President attracts the reaction of various sections of the people. In this context, the Sri Lanka Bar Association (BASL) proposed the establishment of a temporary government for 18 months.[5] However, the fact that the President has wide powers makes it difficult to solve the problems.

[1] “Mahinda Rajapaksa: Sri Lankan PM Resigns Amid Economic Crisis”, BBC, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-61381536, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2022).

[2] “Yoshitha Rajapaksa Leaves the Country”, Daily Mirror, https://www.dailymirror.lk/top_story/Yoshitha-Rajapaksa-leaves-the-country/155-236598, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2022).

[3] “Sri Lanka Prime Minister Resigns Amid Economic Crisis”, DW, https://www.dw.com/en/sri-lanka-prime-minister-resigns-amid-economic-crisis/a-61728550, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2022).

[4] “US Envoy Condemns Violence Against Protestors in Sri Lanka”, Ani News, https://www.aninews.in/news/world/asia/us-envoy-condemns-violence-against-protestors-in-sri-lanka20220509193246/, (Date of Accession:  09.05.2022).

[5] “Sri Lanka’s Opposition Rejects President Rajapaksa’s Offer to form Interim Government”, Economic Times,

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/sri-lankas-opposition-rejects-president-rajapaksas-offer-to-form-interimgovernment/articleshow/91414315.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst, (Date of Accession: 08.05.2022).

Dr. Md Mostafa FAISAL
Dr. Md Mostafa FAISAL, 2010 yılında Dhaka Üniversitesi Siyaset Bilimi bölümünden lisans ve 2012 yılında yüksek lisans eğitimini tamamladı. 2020 yılının Aralık ayında, Gazi Üniversitesi Kamu Yönetimi ve Siyaset Bilimi bölümünden doktorasını aldı. Dr. Faisal’ın, "Küresel Yönetişim Kapsamında Uluslararası Göç: Rohingya Mülteci Krizi Örneği", "Rohingya Refugee crisis: History of Persecution and Global Migration Governance", "Türk Siyaseti: Atatürk’ten Erdogan’a", "Bangladesh: Caretaker Government Past and Present" adlı 4 adet kitabı bulunmaktadır. Başlıca ilgi alanları, Asya çalışmaları, Güney Asya çalışmaları ve Uluslararası Göç ve Mülteciler’dir. Dr. Faisal iyi derecede İngilizce, Türkçe ve Bengalce bilmektedir.