Governance Comes to a Standstill in Sri Lanka With President Gotabaya and Premier Mahinda Stubbornly Remaining in Office Despite Public Pressure While Ruling Coalition Gets Fragmented and MP’s are divided in their loyalties between the two brothers.

By Meera Srinivasan

The Rajapaksa administration has lost public confidence, going by citizens’ persistent calls for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and their government. However, neither of the ruling brothers appears inclined to step down, and Mr. Gotabaya’s move appointing a new Cabinet, without three other Rajapaksas [two of his brothers and a nephew], has made little difference to the protesters.

They continue agitating day after day, near the sea–facing Presidential Secretariat and outside the Prime Minister’s official and private homes, braving the scorching sun, thunderstorms and police barricades put up to deter them. The protests have only intensified in recent weeks as citizens struggle to find or afford essentials such as cooking gas, fuel, food, and medicines, amid severe shortages and inflation — a record 21.5 % in March 2022.

In two critical initiatives this month, Colombo announced a default on its near–$51 billion foreign loans and held talks with the International Monetary Fund in DC for support in ‘restructuring’ its debt. The Fund said its technical discussions with the Sri Lankan delegation were ‘fruitful’ and promised to “support Sri Lanka’s efforts” to overcome the current economic crisis, but it is yet to spell out the actual extent or nature of assistance through a possible structural adjustment programme. It may take weeks, or even months, for the IMF package to materialise, according to experts.

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