Why is the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka not the change the country needs?

The President of Sri Lanka has appointed a new Prime Minister, Ranil Vikremessing, who is a familiar face in the role. as the country’s economic crisis turns into a complete political catastrophe between the security forces of the outbreak of violence, the protesters of the supporters of the incumbent president, the protesters demanding radical political and economic changes.

Vikremessingen returns to office after the previous five games as Prime Minister of the country; He replaces former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who along with her brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, controlled the country’s economic collapse. Mahinda resigned last week amid growing violent protests. during which nine were killed and more than three hundred were injuredreports Reuters.

Like Vox Natasha Ishak explained in AprilSri Lanka’s economy is in shambles, largely due to the country’s $ 50 billion foreign debt default, which is the first time in its history as an independent state. Over the past three years, Sri Lanka’s foreign tourism sector has been hit hard by a series of church bombings in 2019, including the Covid-19 epidemic. These crises, exacerbated by Rajapaksa’s poor financial management, have led to disruptions in goods, including milk, fuel, food, medicine and electricity, which in turn has led to widespread protests and political chaos.

The Rajapaks are a political dynasty in Sri Lanka, their access to government has been considerable. besides Mahinda ոտ Gotabaya, their brother He held the post of Minister of Finance until April 4. President Gotabayan fires his younger brother Basil և replaced other government officials at the time, but the protesters և politicians were not impressed. Pivithuru Hela Urumaya party leader Udaya Gammanpila wrote on Twitter that the conversion resembles “old wine with a new bottle”. reports Reuters.

Of course, Sri Lanka’s economic problems did not start with the current Rajapax government, as the International Crisis Group Alan Keenan explained in an April article:

“Sri Lanka’s economic catastrophe has deep roots. The country has lived beyond its means for a long time, borrowing too much, taxing too little, and being produced below its means. “But the Rajapax administration’s gross negligence in economic matters has significantly exacerbated the island’s chronic problems since coming to power in November 2019.”

However, the dynasty has been a major issue since Mahinda was first elected president in 2005 as the 2018 president. The New York Times describes. In the last decade, the country has taken a number of loans, including about $ 5 billion from China. Through its so-called China’s Road Zone Initiative has invested in a number of infrastructure projects in more than 100 countries. Such projects are likely to “create jobs” and, in the case of Sri Lanka, provide a port on a busy trade route. However, as Ishak noted in his article, the Hambantota port project was finally completed was handed over to China as collateral when the Sri Lankan government failed to repay or review the loans, or successfully complete the project, at least in part because of rampant corruption.

Gotabayan was elected president in 2019, և Rajapaksa dynasty ruled again. “It meant more ambitious infrastructure projects, despite the increase in external debt.” Decrease in foreign exchange reserves to import essential goods due to the lack of foreign income from tourism and other sectors. Gotabayan also reduced taxes when he came to power, hampering the government’s ability to buy foreign currency reserves. In addition, the ban on chemical fertilizers imported in 2021, which aimed to save those foreign exchange reserves, destroyed the agricultural sector.

As a result, Keenan writes:“Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis in almost 75 years of independence.” The protests, he wrote in April, “have now turned into a nationwide uprising”, despite the “reputation of political repression” of the Rajapaksa government. The protesters even forced Mahinda to flee her estateTemple Trees ական resigned on Monday after they tried to break into the complex.

Who is Ranil Vikremessingen?

after: partial attempts to form a new government In April, in the face of threats against his government, Gotabaya appointed Vikremessinge to assume his brother’s post. He was sworn in on Thursday, first holding the post of Prime Minister in 1993, with President D. B. During the Vijetunga period.

Wickremesinghe is the result of families who have long been active in the civil service և political class, stretching even to independence; as reported by Al Jazeera. After becoming a lawyer, Vikremessingen is now the leader of the United National Party of Sri Lanka, holding a number of government posts, including Deputy Foreign Minister and Minister of Industry. In that position, Vikremessingen brought in foreign investors, which is probably the most important point of his current assignment, as his relations with the Indian subcontinent could help negotiate a way out of the current economic turmoil in Sri Lanka.

Nevertheless, as the BBC notesVikremessingen has never been a full-fledged prime minister, and is seen as close to the Rajapaksa clan, despite being in the opposition party and even, as some critics say, supporting them when they lost power in 2015. Moreover, Vikremessingen was in office during the 2019 Easter bombings, claiming that he “out of the ringAs for the warnings about the attacks, which killed at least 250 people.

How can Sri Lanka get out of this crisis?

Amid severe economic crises, violent protests, and deep-rooted government corruption, the future of the Sri Lankan government is bleak at best. At the moment, the protesters are demanding that the rest of the Rajapaksa family, including President Gotabayan, whose office entrance has been occupied by protesters in the past month – remove from the government. Many see Vikremessing’s appointment as a slap in the face, a symbol of Gotabaya’s long-standing refusal to accept his government’s role in the crisis.

According to Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Center for Policy Alternatives, a think tank based in Colombo, Vikremessingen has a huge problem ahead of it if it wants to pull the country out of the current crisis.

“Mr. “Vikremessingen must focus on the political and economic aspects of our governance crisis,” he told Vox by e-mail. “Ignoring the political spheres will disrupt the economic one.”

Getting help from Vikremessing is one of the most important issues to address. International Monetary Fund to buy basic goods, Saravanamutu said. The IMF may provide rapid financing instruments or RFIs to countries in urgent need of assistance in the event of natural disasters or other forces beyond its control, but the circumstances of Sri Lanka do not fall within the RFI’s specific authority. Finance Minister Ali Sabri, who replaced Basil Rajapaksa, formally asked the IMF for help in April, working with the IMF to try to reach an agreement. but because he said in a message to parliament At the beginning of May, any agreement will be based on the restructuring of the country’s debt; it will take six months to implement.

But the economic and political crises are so deeply interconnected that Saravanamutu says that solving one will not lighten the other. Both issues need to be addressed in order for Sri Lanka to recover. «[Wickremesinghe] “We have to ensure that we get the finances, the agreement with the IMF, how we cut the executive presidency, appoint Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation, the term of the chief executive,” he said. Wickremessingen, according to the Associated PressMeeting with diplomats from Japan, the United States, the European Union, Germany, China, and India to present the idea of ​​an aid consortium that would help save the country quickly, but the political dimension has yet to be significantly resolved.

At the moment, Gotabayan does not intend to resign, he retains wide executive powers. was established under his rule in October 2020; this includes the right to make a number of important appointments, to dissolve parliament at any time after the end of its five-year term. Although Gotabaya has came up with the idea of ​​limiting those powers, and reiterated his intention on Wednesday to do so in a speech to a nation that has yet to move forward. As of Saturday, he retains his position և was appointed four new ministers, all belong to his Podujana Peramuna party in Sri Lanka, striving for stability until a new cabinet is formed. A nationwide curfew is in place Monday, as are security forces’ instructions to fire on anyone suspected of vandalism or arson.

But the protesters, both on the streets and onlineThey are still demanding Gotabaya’s resignation, which Saravanamutu thinks is crucial for the country’s future.

“It is the people’s demand that the president leave, not referring to it will be to the detriment of the country.”

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