1 dead, 13 injured in Sri Lanka as police open fire on protesters

Members and supporters of Sri Lanka’s opposition National People’s Power Party march towards Colombo from Beruwala, during a protest against Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, amid the country’s economic crisis, in Colombo , Sri Lanka, April 19, 2022. (Reuters)

Explained: What led to the economic crisis in Sri Lanka and who is helping?

Anger over Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s handling of a deepening economic crisis in the island nation of 22 million people turned violent on Thursday night as hundreds of protesters clashed with the police for several hours. A severe shortage of foreign currency prevented the Rajapaksa government from paying for essential imports, including fuel, leading to debilitating power cuts lasting up to 1 p.m. Ordinary Sri Lankans also face shortages and runaway inflation, after the country sharply devalued its currency last month ahead of talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan scheme.

How did Sri Lanka get here?

Critics say the roots of the crisis, the worst in decades, lie in the economic mismanagement of successive governments that created and maintained a twin deficit – a budget deficit alongside a current account deficit.

“Sri Lanka is a classic twin-deficit economy,” said a 2019 Asian Development Bank working paper. tradable goods and services is insufficient.”

But the current crisis has been accelerated by deep tax cuts promised by Rajapaksa during a 2019 election campaign that were enacted months before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out parts of Sri Lanka’s economy. -lankan.

Explained: The Rajapaksa clan in Sri Lankan politics

The Rajapaksa family, whose members include the prime minister and president of Sri Lanka, hail from Hambantota district in the south. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his Chamal brothers, Prime Minister Mahinda and Basil are third generation politicians, while the fourth generation is represented by Mahinda and Chamal’s sons Namal, Yositha and Shashindra.

In South Asia, no other political dynasty has been so confidently nepotistic. During Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second term as president from 2010 to 2015, there were reportedly more than 40 members of the Rajapaksa family in government positions, outside the cabinet. Many of them were investigated for financial fraud after Mahinda’s government was ousted. Basil, who is also a US citizen, was arrested, and his wife and eldest daughter were questioned.

Under the leadership of Gotabaya and Mahinda, the Rajapaksa clan took charge of 11 ministries. Other family members were housed in the secretariat of the Prime Minister and the President. At least one holds a diplomatic post as Consul General in Los Angeles.

Comments are closed.