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Waiting for better times in Sri Lanka

From the beginning of this year, it was becoming clear that the drift toward economic chaos was a certainty—a power crisis, shortages of fuel, inflation surpassing 50 percent and the Sri Lankan Rupee sliding to 360 to the American dollar from 200.

Anti-government protest in front of the Presidential Secretariat in Sri Lanka on April 13, 2022. Source: Wikimedia Commons

With two key members of a dynasty out of the way, there is some small relief and a hope that perhaps things are returning to normality in an island nation of 22 million that has rarely witnessed the kind of upheaval it has in the last two months. Media and political pundits labelled it differently—it was called People’s Power in the Philippines to get rid of Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies in the 1980s; then came the Arab Spring in 2010-11 that saw regimes in the Middle East rattled by masses yearning for a new political order; and now People’s Aragalaya or Struggle that literally forced the Rajapaksas out of Sri Lanka, a clan that ruled with a tight fist for two decades.

The Rajapaksa family tree did not start and end with Mahinda and Gotabaya; the brothers were joined by two more of their siblings and their sons to make it a grand tally of four Rajapaksas in the Cabinet and one in the PMO as Chief of Staff. No wonder that when Prime Minister Mahinda quit his office in May at the start of the serious rumblings, people of Sri Lanka had already set their eyes on the Clan and everything they stood for and represented. Even the interim Prime Minister—who is now interim President at the time of writing—Ranil Wickeramasinghe is suspect because of a perceived closeness to the Rajapaksas.

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