The Sri Lankan Army has declined instructions of acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe to use force against the protestors after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to Male to escape public wrath over present economic crisis in the Island nation.
While India has made it amply clear that it stands with the Sri Lankan people and the democratic process to elect the next President of the nation after Gotabaya demits office, it is understood that the eldest of the disgraced Rajapaksa clan will resign only after he reaches Singapore from Male so that he gets the requisite diplomatic protocol at Changi International. Colombo watchers believe that Gotabaya will leave for Singapore today with his destination being the United States. Gotabaya had renounced his US citizenship to become Sri Lanka President. His youngest brother Basil still retains his US citizenship.
The appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe as acting president of the troubled nation has also added to public fury as was evident on the streets on Wednesday with mob trying to enter both the Parliament and the official residence of prime minister. After Ranil, who is seen part of the extended Rajapaksa family with close links to Mahinda, imposed nationwide curfew with the help of Sri Lankan Army, he also asked the security forces to use force to quell the protests. This was declined by the Sri Lankan military establishment as they did not want themselves to be seen as anti-people, who are now starved of food and fuel thanks to profligacies of the Rajapaksa clan.
Urged by the tri-force commanders, leaders of the political parties met on Tuesday and issued a unanimous resolution demanding the resignation of Ranil as acting President. The latter on his part issued another statement saying that he would resign only after a new leader acceptable to all parties is appointed. He also charged the security forces to protect state institutions and use force if necessary to bring the law-and-order situation under control. The security forces refused to use extreme force against civilian population. Given that none of the political parties have the numbers to unanimously secure vote for next President, it is quite evident that the Rajapaksa clan will political maneuver Ranil to retain the top slot for the time being.
The Aragalaya protestors have also come under criticism in the social media for storming public institutions. Reports indicate that supporters of extreme Left Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) were responsible for the unruly situation on streets. Several protestors and security personnel were injured in clashes in front of the Sri Lankan Parliament.
President Gotabaya’s fleeing to Maldives has also put Speaker Mohammed Nasheed and the ruling MDP government on the mat for facilitating the escape of the disgraced Sri Lankan leader. The parliamentary group of the main opposition Maldives National Party has decided to move a motion in the Parliament to review the Male government’s action of helping Gotabaya escape from Colombo.
Given the public anger over Gotabaya for foisting Ranil on Sri Lanka as an acting president, the law and order situation in the island nation will remain on tenterhooks as none of the other leaders wanting to step into the economic and political mess created by Rajapaksa clan. The only answer to the present situation seems an early general election under a non-partisan acting president who has no links with the disgraced Rajapaksas.