International partners urge Sri Lanka to uphold the law after unprecedented political crisis

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s international partners have urged the island nation to uphold law and order and prevent violence after its unprecedented political crisis following heavy protests forced its president to flee the country and resign.

Following Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation, incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as caretaker president in accordance with the constitution, despite some protesters threatening to agitate against the legitimate constitutional decision.

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis after the central bank printed trillions of rupees under Rajapaksa leading to a balance of payments problem has now plunged the country into political crisis.

Wickremesinghe will serve as caretaker prime minister until the island nation’s parliament votes on a new president by July 20. It could be Wickremesinghe or any other appointed lawmaker in parliament. Already opposition leader Sajith Premadasa and former media minister Dullas Alahapperuma have expressed their willingness to enter the presidential fray.

However, many people have expressed concern that interim President Wickremesinghe has taken a hard line on the apolitical protesters who led the revolt in less than 100 days.

The European Union called on all parties to act responsibly for the benefit of Sri Lankans.

ensure that further acts of violence are avoided, in order to pave the way for a solution to the ongoing crisis.

The United States urged all parties to work together, ensure respect for the rule of law, and find solutions to the economic crisis following Rajapaksa’s resignation.

“The United States remains committed to the democratic aspirations of the people of Sri Lanka,” the US Embassy said in a statement.

Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour, India, has said it will continue to support the people of the island nation as they seek to realize their aspirations for prosperity and progress through democratic means and values ​​as well only through established institutions and a constitutional framework.

India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman said India would support the people of Sri Lanka in every way possible in their efforts to find a way forward.

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has forced it to beg for money from many foreign countries, including India and China, with many attempts thwarted after the Rajapaksa administration failed to maintain relations diplomatic relations with many countries, including the United States and many countries of the European bloc.

However, the financial crisis forced it to listen to Western countries to ensure the sustainability of its commercial advantages.

IMF loan delays?

The island nation has already started discussions with the International Monetary Fund for an Expanded Fund Facility (EFF) of at least $3 billion. However, the nation in sovereign debt default must complete its debt restructuring as well as tough fiscal reforms before such an IMF loan.

IMF spokesman Garry Rice said the global funder is “deeply concerned about the current crisis, its impact on the people of Sri Lanka, and in particular the poor and vulnerable groups in Sri Lanka”.

“We are hoping for a resolution to the current situation that would allow a resumption of dialogue on an IMF-supported program,” Rice said in response to a reporter’s question.

“Obviously the political and social emergency, I guess we could characterize it and we all see what’s going on, you’ve described it, Matthew, has, you know, interrupted those discussions and we hope to resume as soon as possible.”

“And we’re not at that stage, but for Board approval, a program would require adequate assurances on debt sustainability. So that’s what I have on this situation, you know, which is of great concern in Sri Lanka.

Sources close to Wickremesinghe told Economy Next that the EFF would likely be delayed due to delays in debt restructuring, which requires considerable time as it involved certain legal procedures.

Wickremesinghe, who may or may not remain president after July 5, was sworn in and immediately declared he would curtail presidential powers with a constitutional amendment. Economic and political analysts say the vast powers given to former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa were the main reason for his political failure which led to a chaotic end to his presidential term.

“Immediate steps will be taken to restore law and order in the country. I fully accept the right to protest peacefully, but others are now trying to sabotage these protests,” Wickremesinghe said after the swearing-in.

“We are obligated to ensure that they are protected by law and order. We are obliged to defend democracy.

“I am bound to protect the constitution. I will never allow anything unconstitutional to happen in our country. I don’t work outside the constitution. If law and order breaks down, it will affect our economy. (Colombo/July 15, 2022)

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