August 17, 2022

Imagineers

Engineer's Line

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Resigns! Dynasty Rule Still Continues.

13 min read

The situation continues to worsen in Sri Lanka.A nationwide shortage of food, medicines, fuel,in addition to high rates of inflation.

The worst economic crisis in the country’s history.The condition is so bad thatthe angry mobs have started setting the houses of the politicians of the ruling party on fire.

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister’s family home was torched.Not only this, homes of dozens of politicianswere set on fire by the protestors.

In the meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister has resigned.”The condition in neighbouring Sri Lanka continues to worsen instead of stabilising.

The country is struggling through an economic crisis.””The troops armed with orders to shoot

those indulging in violence. are patrolling Sri Lanka’s capital, Columbo today.”

“Since last month, the country has been rocked by demonstrations and the soaring prices power cuts, and the lack of medicines. At least 8 people have died in the violence

200 have been injured.”Our people are suffering,

Our people are living with one meal per day,

the rising inflation and worsening economic conditions have been seeing protests for many weeks in Sri Lanka. But in response to the protests, the government made a significant decision on 3rd April.

When the government said that all the ministers would resign.from the education minister to the defence minister,all 26 cabinet ministers in Sri Lanka’s governmentenacted a mass resignation by resigning collectively.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksha,Approached the opposition parties,with the proposal to form a unity government.But his offer was rejected,

and then, a new Cabinet conprising of 17 members was swore in by him.President Gotabaya was of the opinion that

It may be sufficient to calm the protestors,

but they weren’t appeased.

The protests continued.Meanwhile, the government declared a state of emergency in the country.The exact reason behind this economic crisis in Sri Lanka,and the reasons that drove Sri Lanka to this dire situation,were discussed in detail in the previous video on Sri Lanka,

Broadly speaking,one of the primary reasons of this wasSri Lanka’s incumbent government.

The President and the Prime Minister.They had made a series of wrong decisions.

This is why, since 9th April,

the protestors had begun to camp outside President Gotabaya Rajapaksha’s office.

Dozens of tents were pitched in,

and the ground outside the President’s office, was turned into a perrmanent protest site.

This protest site was named

Gotagogama.

Gama in Sinhalese means Village.

And Gota refers to the President Gotabaya.

This protest site is to signify a village

asking Gota to leave. “Go, Gota Go!”

Slogans of “Go Gota Go” can be heard through out these protests.

“Go, Gota Go!”Many people have compared these protests to the farmers’ protest in India

The farmers’ protest in Delhi’s Singhu border.Singhu border had turned into a permanent protest site of sorts.

The protestors were stationed there day and night,

n the makeshift tents.

The same thing is happening in Sri Lanka.The Sri Lankan protests remained peaceful largely.At least in the beginning.

There wasn’t many instances of violence by the protesters,

because these protestors were the university students, lawyers, artists,

religious leaders, academics, NGO activists,

and educated people of all walks.

But these protests turned violent when

President Gotabaya’s supporters carried out attacks with sticks

on the peaceful protesters.

About 3,000 Rajapaksha supporters,

gathered outside the official residence of the Prime Minister.

By the way, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka

is also a Rajapaksha,

same as the President.

Both have same surnames

because the two are brothers.

I’ll talk about this later.

These supporters began with destroying the tents of the protesters,

who were protesting outside the PM’s residence.

They then marched to the Gotagogama protest site,

and destroyed the tents there as well.

They clashed with the protesters.

Many people believe that

they weren’t Rajapaksha’s supporters,

instead, they were goons hired by the government

to stop the protests.

It is said that they were deployed there

to incite violence, threaten the protesters,

so that the protesters could be silenced.

This mob of ‘supporters’ clashed with the crowd of protesters,

and more than 150 people were injured.

After this incident, the protesters became further infuriated against the government.

And the protesters turned violent then.

They started setting the homes of politicians on fire.

The houses of many politicians were torched.

Including the ancestral home of the Rajapaksha family.

It too was set on fire.

In response, the police used tear gas, water cannon.

In the midst of it all, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa

finally resigned.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa accepted his resignation.

The situation had turned so bad,

that army had to be called to help the Prime Minister evacuate his home.

Because the crowd of the protesters,

had breached the main gate

and was about to enter the residence.

Hearing this, you might think that

the resignation of the Prime Minister of the country

must be good news for the protesters.

This was what the protesters wanted.

So they should stop the protests

because the most powerful person in the country, the PM, had resigned.

But friends, it is not so.

The constitutional structure of Sri Lanka

is quite different from that of India.

Indian President is not equipped with many powers.

But it is not so in Sri Lanka.

In Sri Lanka, in addition to the Prime Minister,

the Sri Lankan President is equally powerful.

Here, the Sri Lankan President hasn’t turned in his resignation yet.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa,

the person aimed at with the slogans of “Go, Gota Go”

is the President.

People were infuriated with the Prime Minister as well,

but they are specifically demanding the President’s resignation.

As I told you,

the President and the Prime Minister are literally brothers.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa,

though one of them has resigned,

the other is still holding on to his seat.

Obviously, the protesters aren’t happy with this.

The protests are continuing

and in a way, this protest is against this dynastic family as well.

These two brothers were occupying the two most powerful positions in the country.

But that was the tip of the iceberg.

The size of their dynasty,

will shock you.

Starting with Mahinda Rajapaksa,

he had be the Sri Lankan Prime Minister during 2004-2005,

then from 2005 to 2015,

he was the President of Sri Lanka.

Since 2018, he was once again the Prime Minister.

His family roots actually began with his grandfather.

Don David Rajapaksa.

He was an MP from 1947 to 1965.

He had two sons.

Don Mattew Rajapaksa and Don Alvin Rajapaksa.

Don Mattew had won the State Council Elections in Sri Lanka,

and was a part of the government.

after which, his younger brother Alvin joined the government too.

Don Alvin Rajapaksa had four sons.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the incumbent President of Sri Lanka.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has recently resigned from the post of the Prime Minister,

Basil Rajapaksa, he had been the Finance Minister of the country for some time.

And Chamal Rajapaksa, who was until quite recently,

the Minister of Irrigation.

All four brothers holding such powerful positions.

A Finance Minister, Prime Minister, and even a Minister of Irrigation.

But the story doesn’t end here.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son, Namal Rajapaksa,

was the Minister of Youth and Sports until 3rd April.

Chamal Rajapaksa’s son, Shasheendra Rajapaksa,

was the State Minister of Paddy, Cereals, and Organic Food.

A dynasty of this level hasn’t been seen in India till date.

At one point in 2021,

when the Rajapaksa family

held 9 ministerial berths,

7 cabinet positions in the Sri Lankan government,

and of the total budget of Sri Lanka,

75% of it was wholly under the control of this family.

The thing is, in October last year,

the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa,

passed a constitutional amendment.

The 20th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka,

with which, his powers were increased significantly.

Due to this, not only is Sri Lanka facing an economic crisis right now,

but is also under a political crisis.

To understand this, we need to

have a basic understanding of Sri Lanka’s political structure first.

India got Independence from the British in 1947.

The next year,

on 4th February 1948,

Sri Lanka won independence from the British.

But Sri Lanka’s Independence,

was unlike India’s.

India had won full independence from the British.

But Sri Lanka remained a Dominion State under the British Empire.

Dominion meant that Sri Lanka would be an autonomous state,

an independent country, to quite an extend,

but it would continue to remain a part of the British Empire.

It would bear allegiance to the Crown.

Sri Lanka received full independence on 16th May 1972.

Later, in 1978, a new Constitution was adopted.

In this Constitution, they chose a Semi-Presidential form of government.

Not only would the President be the nominal Head of the State,

but he would also be given Executive Power

as Head of the Government.

In India, there’s a Parliamentary System.

The real executive powers lie in the hands of the Prime Minister,

the Prime Minister is the most powerful person,

and the President can be seen as almost powerless.

A nominal head.

In the US, the entire executive powers has been given to the President,

and there is no Prime Minister in their system.

It is the President’s job to oversee the functioning of the Cabinet,

to supervise the executive branch,

and to manage the multiple departments.

Sri Lanka’s system can be considered as a mix

of the US system and the Indian system.

Like the Presidential election in the US to elect the President,

the same is seen in Sri Lanka as well.

There is a public election for the President.

It is not so in India.

The President isn’t elected by the people in India.

But in the way that there are elections to select the Prime Minister in India,

similar elections are held in Sri Lanka as well.

To form the government and to select the ministers and the cabinet.

According to the Sri Lankan Constitution,

the President had the most power, he was the most powerful.

But there was a Prime Minsiter as well,

equipped with ssignificant powers as well.

However, this changed in 2015.

When the opposition government came into power

and they amended the Constitution.

The took away the powers of the President

and empowered the Parliament and independent commissions.

They said that they wanted to become more like India,

where the power remains with the Prime Minister and the Parliament.

But then in November 2019,

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected as the President of Sri Lanka,

and he amended the Constitution once again.

He used the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse

and cited the numerous conflicts seen in the previous government

since the President and Prime Minister were from different parties.

He claimed that the government couldn’t function well.

So an amendment was required

to get the powers back into the hands of the President.

That’s why, last year in October,

he passed the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.

This time, he bestowed upon himself more powers than the President originally had.

He said that the President would have the power to appoint the ministers,

and remove them,

to appoint the election authority,

public serivce, police, human rights,

corruption investigation commission,

the powers to appoint such officers would now lie with the President.

The President may even dissolve the Parliament

after being elected for 2 years and 6 months,

whereas the previous law prohibited the President

from dissolving the Parliament

until 6 months before the expiry of 5 years of term.

In addition to these, the President empowered himself

to become the minister of any department.

Such as if he wants to be the defence minister of the country and the President,

he can do so.

Basically speaking,

the President of Sri Lanka became an all powerful post.

And Gotabaya Rajapaksa got almost absolute control of the country.

And the areas where he couldn’t control directly,

he placed his brothers and other family members

and started running the government as a family business.

His constitutional amendments were criticisied worldwide.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) had issued an statement

on 27th October 2020.

Stating that, “the ICJ today

condemned the adoption of amendments

to the Sri Lankan Contitution,

which served to expand the powers of the President

while encroaching on the powers of the Parliament and the courts.”

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And let’s get back to the topic.

Friends, the accusations aren’t limited to

corruption, nepotism, economic crisis, and inflation.

It is said that the Rajapaksa family has

used communal temsions to remain in power.

If we look at the ethnic makeup of Sri Lanka,

The Sinhala Buddhist are in majority

with 74.9% population.

Followed by 11.9% of Tamils,

and the Muslims make up 9.3% of the population.

When Sri Lanka received independence from the British in 1948,

they put most of the political powers in the hands of the Tamil minority group.

Seeing this, the Sinhalese Buddhists weren’t happy at all.

They were afraid.

But in 1956, when Sinhala became the national language of Sri Lanka,

non-Sinhala speakers were removed from public services.

It was estimated that at least 700,000 Tamils lost their jobs.

Tamils began feeling discriminated against in their own state.

And eventually, this led to

some people demanding an independent Tamil country.

A rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was born.

In 1983, there was a full-blown Civil War in Sri Lanka

between the government and the LTTE.

But we can talk about that in some other video.

In 2005, Mahinda Rajapaksa became Sri Lanka’s President.

He continued the campaign against the LTTE,

and tried his best to end the war.

But his approach for winning the cnflict is heavily criticised.

It is said that the government forces

killed 40,000 Tamil civilians in the fighting.

The Sinhalese Buddhist majority conssider him a war hero,

but the minority Tamils aren’t pleased with him at all.

Back then the conflict was between the Buddhist majority and the minority Tamils,

but in the recent years,

we have been witnessing conflicts between the Buddhist majority

and the Muslim minority.

The Rajapaksa family is accused of

constantly trying to appease the majority Sinhalese Buddhists,

and it is said to be one of the many reasons

behind the present economic crisis.

It is said that they, along with their party supporters,

started several communal riots throughout the country,

to increase their chances of winning the elections,

and for majority appeasement.

Over the last few years,

not only the minority Muslims,

but the minority Christians have also been increasingly attacked

under the Rajapaksa government.

In the midst of these frequent communal tensions,

came the backbreaking economic crisis and inflation.

If we fast forward to the present,

the protests against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

are carried out not only by the Sinhalese people,

but also by the Muslims, Christians, and Tamils.

They’ve come together to protest.

They are collectively demanding the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation.

Which hasn’t come about yet.

But politically speaking,

it is very difficult to come up with a solution here.

You might wonder what’s so difficult.

The President can simply resign and call for fresh elections.

Had this happened in any normal country,

the new elections could have been called

but in this case,

first of all, the Sri Lankan Constitution

contains no provision for mid-term Presidential elections.

The next Presidential election is slated to be held in

October-November 2024.

Second,

the political parties in the Parliament

have said that the present situation in the country,

is not conducive to conduct fresh elections under any circumstances.

Economic crisis, energy shortage,

shortages of food and money

are so severe that

the country has no money left to conduct elections.

To conduct a National General Election,

it costs around 800 million Sri Lankan Rupees.

All political parties are of the opinion that

including the opposition parites,

that they shouldn’t be wasting money on conducting elections.

The main opposition party of Sri Lanka, SJW,

said that they will move a No-Confidence Motion against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa,

to impeach him.

But according to the Sri Lankan Constitution,

it is very difficult to impeach the President.

First of all, to initiate the process of impeachment,

the majority approval of the Parliament would be required,

the Speaker would have to agree,

half of the MPs would have to agree,

and the reason stated should be clear-cut and legitimate,

and then the notice of impeachment

would go to the Supreme Court.

The constitutional validity of it would be verified by the Supreme Court.

If after the enquiry of the Supreme Court,

it is help that

the allegations against the President are valid,

then the report would be place in front of the Parliament once again,

but this time, mere simple majority would not suffice,

2/3rds majority of the Parliament would be required to impeach the President.

Apart from this, the only other solution is that

as the PM had said before his resignation

a Unity Interim Government can be formed.

All the parties present in the Parliament,

can come together to form a coalition government.

And the new government would function during the state of Emergency.

At the time of recording this video,

President Rajapaksa has invited all political parties to the Parliament

to form an All-Party Cabinet.

The Chief of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka has said that

if there is no new government withing the next 2 days,

the country would fall into a crisis so bad

that it would be impossible to recover from it.

The protesters are demanding

the resignation of the President.

Which he is unwilling to do.

So it is up to be seen

how the situation is resolved moving ahead,

it is truly a difficult situation.

How will this country recover from this economic and political crisi?

I wholeheartedly hope that

it turns out well.

And the Sri Lankan people can get a good future as soon as possible.

If you liked this video,

you can watch the last video on Sri Lanka’s crisis.

The reasons behind this crisis.

Click here for that.

Let’s meet in the next video.

Thank you very much!

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