Sanity to Prevail

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Yesterday was the 233rd anniversary of the French Revolution, heralded by the storming of the Bastille which led to the overthrow of King Louis XVI.

It was hunger that heralded the French Revolution, an almost mirror image of Sri Lanka’s current Aragalaya (struggle) which led to the overthrow of a corrupt, asinine leader, representing a family also marked for their corruption and shortsighted policies that have made Sri Lanka bankrupt and its people hungry during their near 13-year regime, first, spanning from 17 November 2005 to 8 January 2015 and the second and the “last,” from 16 November 2019 to 9 July 2022.

However, this  corrupt and asinine leader, President and Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa (rwp, rsp, psc) from the SLPP didn’t resign as promised on Wednesday (13 July), Speaker  Mahinda  Yapa Abeywardena said yesterday (14), leading to an apparent constitutional crisis.

Nonetheless, as he had previously told the Speaker that he would resign, whilst fleeing the country like a fugitive, first to the Maldives on Wednesday and his media division saying two days earlier on Monday (11 July) that Gotabaya’s “voice” in Sri Lanka is the Speaker, it may, ipso facto be presumed that his resignation, though not in writing, still stands.

According to international media reports, Gota was en route to Singapore at the time of writing yesterday, from where he’s expected to send his promised letter of resignation to the Speaker. 

Nonetheless, letter or no letter, as per the Constitution, the Speaker, as he had promised earlier, should go ahead and hold a secret ballot among the MPs Wednesday (20 July) and elect a new President to run the balance term left of Gota’s Presidency which ends in another two years’ time in 2024.

At the time of writing, three names for the Presidency have been proposed. They are UNP leader, Premier and Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe (MP); Opposition and SJB Leader Sajith Premadasa and SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma. Nominations close this coming Tuesday.

The ‘9 July Movement’, an important adjunct of the aragalaya which has its beginning four months earlier in March 2022, led to the disappearance of Gota and his “immediate” family, elder brothers Chamal and two times President Percy Mahendra (Mahinda), younger brother Basil and nephews Namal (Mahinda’s eldest son) and Sasheendra (Chamal’s son) from Sri Lanka’s political landscape at least for now.

Since obtaining independence from the British 74 years ago on 4 February 1948, Sri Lanka has a 69-year-old history of social unrest and terrorism, beginning with the 12 August 1953 Hartal and now, the aragalaya.

The aragalaya, led by youth is nothing new. The 5 April 1971 JVP insurgency was also led by  youth, so was the Tamil insurgency of 23 July 1983, while in the case of the second JVP Insurrection of 29 July 1987, it was the youth who did the dirty work of their ‘elder’ JVP leaders, the latter, responsible for the original 1971 JVP Insurgency.

Security forces and the Police, as well as Defence Minister and President Rajapaksa and Acting Defence Minister Wickremesinghe should be commended for the restraint they have shown when once a passive ‘aragalaya’ became active on 9 May, resulting in the burning of the private residences of several ministers, including Mahinda’s  and Chamal’s.

They were reactivated after a two-month hiatus on Saturday (9 July), resulting in the invasions of President’s House, Colombo; Presidential Secretariat, Colombo; Premier’s Office in Colombo and the burning of Wickremesinghe’s private residence also in Colombo.

But, by the coming Wednesday, when Parliament votes for a new President, the ‘aragalaya’ may well have had lost their vigour, though not their ‘bite’.‘Aragalaya’ activists may rightly be construed as being an extension of the island’s suffering masses, hapless victims of the two corrupt Rajapaksa regimes.

The masses also know, they have now been given a chance to elect a new President through their representatives coming Wednesday (20) to ensure that stability and recognition from the countries that matter from an economic perspective may once more be obtained. It’s therefore believed that order in the country will prevail, beginning next Friday.