RANIL-RAJAPAKSA LEGACY

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Closing down schools prematurely, because public transport has inadequate fuel to run regular services to take schoolchildren to and from school on time, is one of the most recent of records created by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, caused by the shortage of US dollars in the country.

Usually schools are closed prematurely during wars, insurgencies or pandemics, like the 5 April 1971 Insurgency and the Covid-19 Pandemic two years ago. But the Rajapaksa-UNP leader and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe Government has created a record by closing down schools prematurely because the country is bankrupt to import fuel to provide schoolchildren with a regular public transport system.

In any other country, beginning with the Transport Minister and extending up to the Petroleum (Power and Energy) Minister, together with the President, the Premier and the rest of the Government, in such a situation, would have had resigned, but not so in Sri Lanka, because the country has no accountability mechanism to check on acts of omission and commission committed by the Executive, the Premier, the Government and its Ministers.

But, this is what the international community that matters, namely the USA, EU, Japan and the UK want from Sri Lanka, accountability, equivalent to the much-needed ‘open sesame’ for dollars from this part of the world.

EU Sri Lanka’s tweet of Friday 24 June implied just this, which said, “EU+ ambassadors met with President Rajapaksa. The way out of the crisis is through structural reforms at all levels.” One of such reforms is accountability. If that’s missing, then, aid too will be “missing!”

EU’s stance was complemented by the UK eight days earlier, when, UK’s Roving Ambassador for Human Rights (HR) Rita French, speaking at the UN HR Council sessions in Geneva on 16 June said, “We note that protesters have exercised their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and freedom of expression in recent months. We are deeply concerned by violent attacks on peaceful protesters and subsequent violence against Government-aligned politicians and supporters. Those responsible for this violence must be held to account.

“We stress the crucial importance of upholding democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and maintaining independent institutions. We also urge the Sri Lankan authorities to address long-standing impunity and corruption, and underline the need for good governance and sound economic policies.

“Our concerns over surveillance and intimidation of civil society persist and we stress the importance of protecting civil society space.The Core Group calls on Sri Lanka to cooperate with the High Commissioner and her Office and is ready to support Sri Lanka on the implementation of HRC resolution 46/1.”

The Core Group comprises Canada, Germany, Malawi, Montenegro, North Macedonia, the UK and the United States. “’HRC resolution 46/1’ is about accountability vis-à-vis alleged war crimes committed during the closing stages of Sri Lanka’s war with the LTTE. The attack on protesters that she refers to is the 9 May mayhem which led to the resignation of the then Premier and SLPP leader Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Cabinet, leading to the appointment of Wickremesinghe from Sedawatte as the new Premier on 12 May. Yesterday this newspaper, quoting UNP General Secretary Palitha Range Bandara, said that Wickremesinghe has done everything possible to resolve the country’s economic crisis.

Today marks the 55th day since Wickremesinghe was appointed Premier upon Mahinda’s resignation due to public protests because of the soaring cost of living (CoL), shortages, queues, including ‘queue’ deaths, record daily power cuts, a black market, cronyism, nepotism, bribery and corruption, reminiscent to that which existed during the seven-year period from 1970-77, 45 to 52  years ago.

But, during those 55 days to date that Wickremesinghe has been Premier, matters have not only changed, but have taken a turn for the worse.  CoL continues to soar with headline inflation establishing new records month on month; queues for essentials like cooking gas, diesel, petrol and kerosene continuing, with at least two queue deaths reported since Wickremesinghe’s appointment. Daily power cuts are not only continuing but have even been extended and the black market, nepotism, bribery and corruption are thriving.This is the Rajapaksa-Wickremesinghe legacy.

1 COMMENT

  1. It was common sense, that Gotabaya/ Ranil combination was a no win situation..
    GOTABAYA WANTED A PIGGY BACK RIDE ,AND RANIL WHO HAS PROVED HIMSELF TO BE A NOT SO SMART
    GUY, WILLINGLY OFFERED IT. The union between two failed people will never be a success.
    Let sanity prevail and failures find their destination in oblivion.

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