Sri Lanka’s Political Vacuum Continues Amid Economic Crisis

Sri Lanka is in a political vacuum for a third day Tuesday with opposition leaders yet to agree on who should replace its roundly rejected leaders, whose residences are occupied by protesters, angry over the country’s economic woes.

Protesters remained in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence, his seaside office and the prime minister’s official home, which they took possession of on Saturday demanding the two leaders to step down. It was the biggest and most eventful day of protests over the past three months surrounding the administrative district in capital, Colombo.

They remained there saying they would stay until the resignations are official. However, the are talks that the President would step down on Wednesday while the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe maintains that he would only leave office once a new government is in place.

The president hasn’t been seen or heard publicly since Saturday and his location is unknown, but his office said Sunday that he ordered the immediate distribution of a cooking gas consignment to the public, suggesting that he was still at work. Pressure on both men had grown as the economic meltdown set off acute shortages of essential items, leaving people struggling to obtain food, fuel and other necessities.

Opposition party leaders have been in discussion to form an alternative all-party government, an urgent requirement of bankrupt nation to continue discussions with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout program.

Sri Lanka announced in April that it was suspending repayment of foreign loans due to a foreign currency shortage. Its total foreign debt amounts to $51 billion, of which it must repay $28 billion by the end of 2027.

Months of demonstrations have all but dismantled the Rajapaksa political dynasty, which has ruled Sri Lanka for most of the past two decades but is accused by protesters of mismanagement and corruption.


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