Government chaos and protests in Sri Lanka

Political upheavals shake Sri Lanka: The situation in Colombo remains tense following the dismissal of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the appointment of ex-President Mahinda Rajapakse as the new head of government. FAIRMED country coordinator Nayani Suriyarachchi gives an insight into the situation on the ground.

There were demonstrations in Colombo (Foto: Anuradha Dullewe Wijeyeratne)

“It was a genuine surprise for the entire nation, but as always things are proceeding in the same manner. Right now, it’s business as usual,” says Suriyarachchi of her impressions six days after the change of guard in Sri Lanka’s political leadership. “It is indeed strange that despite all the political turmoil in Sri Lanka, we are seeing things developing at the same pace,” continued Suriyarachchi.

According to news agency SDA, only the capital Colombo saw substantial demonstrations with tens of thousands of protesters. These erected roadblocks and shouted slogans against the new head of government, Mahinda Rajapakse. The situation was close to spilling over into violence, as was broadly confirmed by various media sources.

Suspension of parliament lifted once again
According to SDA, the crisis is now at least partially defused since the lifting by President Maithripala Sirisena of the suspension of parliament that he previously declared. It was Sirisena himself who dismissed Wickremesinghe and appointed controversial ex-president Mahinda Rajapakse as his successor.

Wickremesinghe refused to leave of his own volition, however, and demanded a parliamentary vote on his future. The President then suspended the chamber until November 16 – a decision that he has now revoked. The SDA agency reports that behind the scenes, Rajapakse and Wickremesinghe are fighting for votes in anticipation of a possible vote in parliament. According to recent estimates, Wickremesinghe is able to count on 104 of the 225 MPs and Rajapakse on 99.