Premier and two times President Percy Mahendra Rajapaksa have sent his letter of resignation to younger brother President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, his Press Secretary Rohan Weliwita said yesterday (9).
Just prior to his resignation, Mahinda’s goons ran amok, which, according to the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), “a gang of persons armed with poles and clubs marching from Temple Trees towards Galle Face. They have attacked anti-Government protesters opposite Temple Trees. BASL calls upon the IGP and the Police to take immediate action, to prevent anti-Government protesters from being attacked. There will be grave repercussions to the Government, and the Police if they fail to take action to deal with this situation.”
Shortly after these gruesome incidents, Mahinda sent his letter of resignation to the President, but not before he had a meeting with his “supporters” at Temple Trees, Kollupitiya, one of his two official residences in Colombo and asked them whether he should resign? They had said “no.” Subsequently, Mahinda said that he will not resign, before changing his mind after his “supporters” ran riot, injuring over 100 peaceful demonstrators, calling for the resignations of not only Mahinda, but also brother Gotabaya as well. The President has however, not resigned.
The ire of the masses have been provoked against the brothers due to the astronomical rise in the cost of living; daily, hours long power cuts running for weeks due to the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) having insufficient US Dollars to import coal, gas and diesel to provide uninterrupted power to the country; shortages of essentials like fuel and milk foods; hours long queues, at times for nine hours or more to buy essentials and in a number of instances having to return empty; a thriving black market and bribery and corruption.
Previously a similar situation was experienced during the time when the country was practising a closed economy, but the current situation has been led by corruption after GoSL obtained expensive Foreign Commercial Loans (FCL) of shorter tenures since Mahinda won the 17 November 2005 Presidential Poll, resulting in FCL which was under six per cent vis-à-vis GoSL’s total foreign debt up to 2005, passing the 51 per cent mark in 2012 and further increasing to 53 per cent last year, from 52 per cent in 2020. Consequently, on 12 April 2022, Sri Lanka declared itself bankrupt, servicing only multilateral loans and Sri Lanka development bond holders.
Meanwhile, the President in April 2021 arbitrarily banned the import of chemical fertiliser, impacting the Maha 2021/2022 Paddy Harvest by 30 per cent and Yala 2022 which is to be harvested in August. Gota rescinded this ban in November 2021 due to protests, but not before the damage was done.
These peaceful protesters who were injured yesterday by Mahinda’s goons were demanding the brothers’ resignations for weeks, demonstrating at Temple Trees, Kollupitiya and at the Presidential Secretariat, Colombo.
The violence unleashed by Mahinda’s armed goons in broad daylight, while the Police looked by, took place after the President declared a state of emergency since Friday midnight.
While the country is under a state of emergency, for armed goons to walk freely in the heart of Colombo in broad daylight shows that they had had the backing at the very top. The Minister-in-Charge of Police is Prasanna Ranatunga. But, consequent to Mahinda’s resignation, the Cabinet too, stands dissolved. Meanwhile the Defence Minister is the President.
Soon after these violent incidents, the President declared a countrywide indefinite curfew yesterday. The first political move in recent days made by the Rajapaksa brothers leading to the current situation took place when the President declared the aforesaid state of emergency. The next step was for the President to summon a special Cabinet meeting on Friday (13), itself at President’s House, Colombo to ask Mahinda to resign. However, under the Constitution, the President, without giving any reasons may sack the Premier.
But with the drama backfiring due to protests against the GoSL exacerbating rather than dying down, that forced Mahinda to do a volte-face and resign, while anarchy has gripped the country.