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While there have been continuous protests against former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for more than three months, the initial demand from the Sinhala crowd was for him to step down from the presidency. But what really happened is he is out of the country. He is currently in Singapore and we all know that the protests against him are continuing. There are slogans, demonstrations, and protests against him wherever he goes.

During the 2009 war, he was the secretary of the Ministry of Defence and he was the main reason for winning the war against the LTTE. Therefor,e the majority of the Sinhalese people had supported him. The Sinhala Buddhists believed that the Rajapaksa brothers were the ones who brought victory and peace to Sri Lanka by destroying the LTTE.

We need to take a closer look at the fact that the same community who celebrated him then, especially in the 2018 presidential election, ensuring his victory with sixty-nine lakh votes, enabling him to become president — a majority of whom were Sinhala Buddhists, have now risen against him and removed him from the presidency in a non-violent way. This is an example of people’s power to remove rulers who rule the country in an undemocratic way, with corruption and human rights violations, without respecting the rule of law.

Sixty-nine lakh people who voted for him turned against him, demanding that the Rajapaksa family step down and not come to power in political history anymore.

Even when Gotabaya Rajapaksa was leaving the country, immigration officials expressed their opposition to letting him leave the country. But after a few hours, officials said he was allowed to leave with the help of the government that said as a president in power he could go to wherever he wanted. After being delayed for many days, his resignation was confirmed by the Speaker on July 15. Even when Ranil Wickremesinghe became acting President according to the constitution after Gotabaya fled the country, the protests continued against him, demanding that he too step down. Wickremesinghe called on all political party leaders to establish an interim government until a new president can be elected to replace Gotabaye Rajapaksa. At the same time, according to the constitution, he can remain as president for 30 days. Within those 30 days, the election is going to be So held on the July 20.

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Series of mistakes:
So why is the majority Sinhala crowd now against Gotabaya Rajapaksa? Why there was a protest? Where did it start?. Let’s take a closer look at the process.

In 2021 the farmers started to protest against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as he stopped importing fertilizers but this struggle got little attention from people in the capital because it was a problem of the working class. Thereafter milk powder imports stopped, and mothers joined the protests against him.

The problem of not having enough food for their children affects everyone. Mothers took to the streets and started raising their voices against Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Then the government stopped importing cooking gas. The resulting shortage meant that people had to wait long hours for a refill. So more men and women joined the protest to show their anger against the government which was controlled and ruled by the Rajapakse family. After this, there was a shortage of fuel. Due to fuel shortage, electricity production was curtailed, and many hours of power cuts were imposed on the country. All most everyone was raising their voices against the ruling Rajapakse clan for financial mismanagement and putting the citizenliterally in the dark without basic needs being met.

In 2021 the farmers started to protest against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as he stopped importing fertilizers but this struggle got little attention from people in the capital because it was a problem of the working class.

Due to their mismanagement and authoritarian rule, in 2021, the government brought down foreign exchange reserves to pay the internal debt of $2 billion. They took the money because Sri Lanka had several loans from China, which is the country’s fourth-biggest lender, behind international financial markets, the Asian Development Bank, and Japan. The country has received billions of dollars of soft loans from China, but the island nation has been engulfed in a foreign exchange crisis which some analysts have said has pushed it to the verge of default.

Forex crisis:
In 2021, the government drew down foreign exchange reserves to honor debt payments of $2 billion. In 2022, January and June respectively, loans of $500 million and $1 billion were due. Sri Lanka will be required to repay an estimated $7.3 billion in domestic and foreign loans. However, as of November 2021, available foreign currency reserves were just $1.6 billion.

The majority of Sinhala people started to understand that one family was the root cause of all these economic and political crises. And they understood this family cannot take the country forward anymore. Corruption is going on. Sixty-nine lakh people who voted for him turned against him, demanding that the Rajapaksa family step down and not come to power in political history anymore.

Minorities targeted
But we should not forget that the struggle against Gotabaya Rajapaksa started many years ago by the Tamil people of the North-East. And the human rights violations committed against the Tamils ​​during the war and in the post-war period. Due to this today the families of the missing persons and the affected people continue to fight against the Rajapakse family. In addition, on Easter Sunday 2019, eight bombs exploded across cities and locations in the country including three churches and high-end hotels. More than 250 people died and around 500 were injured that day. After the Easter attack, Gotabaya
started to attack the Muslim community. Later during the COVID pandemic, he authorized the cremation of Muslim victims against their religious beliefs. So he earned the ire of the Muslim community too. The agitation against the Rajapakse family is the result of their own actions. The protestors have placed many demands for the people who come to power in the future.

The main demands include:
Abolishing the executive presidency, which has given excess power to ruin the country to the Rajapakse family and all the predecessors since 1978; the people-centered Constitution can empower the judiciary including the police department, by providing the constitutional powers and responsibility to ensure the rule of law, and are accountable to the people. And eventually, the legislators, executives, and judicial officers also should abide by the same law that governs the people.

The urgent need is to prioritize and demand a constitutionally accountable governing system and make the executive, legislators, and the judiciary accountable to the people and governed under the same law that applies to the people.

The ongoing uprising in Sri Lanka is an example that dictatorship, authoritarianism, corruption, oppression, nepotism, and regime by rulers who do not respect law and order will not be able to rule the country for a long time. And history proved once again they would fail when people’s power overtakes them. We must rise against all kinds of ‘Rajapaksisms’ wherever it is practiced.


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