Unprecedented developments in Sri Lanka were inevitable: Strategic affairs experts


NEW DELHI: The unprecedented developments witnessed in Sri Lanka were inevitable in the face of people’s raging fury against the Rajapaksa family over its handling of the economic crisis, leading strategic affairs experts in India said on Sunday.
At the same time, they said the economic situation is unlikely to improve dramatically just because President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has decided to step down, paving the way for the formation of an all-party government.
Embattled President Rajapaksa announced on Saturday that he would step down on July 13, hours after thousands of angry protesters stormed his official residence and set Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s private house on fire.
Wickremesinghe also said he would resign.
“This was becoming inevitable. The popular sentiment had turned against the Rajapaksas. They lost their political capital,” Ambassador Ashok K Kantha told PTI.
Kantha, who served as Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka from 2009 to 2013, said there was a “fairly strong political demand and consensus” that the Rajapaksas must step down.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, elder brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, stepped down on May 9 after massive anti-government protests rocked Sri Lanka.
Ambassador G Parthasarathy, who served as Indian envoy to several countries including Myanmar and Pakistan, said the tumultuous events in Colombo are a reflection of the “public anger”.
“They have not targeted any diplomatic mission or other institution. It was very carefully targeted that showed results as a coalition government is coming up,” he said.
Kantha said Sri Lanka does not have the luxury of time as the economic crisis is “unprecedented” and it will not go away just because Gotabaya Rajapaksa is stepping down.
“I think the new government has to come in at the earliest and try and deal with the crisis,” he said.
Ambassador Parthasarathy lashed out at the Western powers for not supporting Sri Lanka in its hours of crisis while pouring in billions of dollars of assistance to Ukraine.
He hailed India for its generous assistance to Sri Lanka.
Another veteran diplomat, Ashok Sajjanhar, blamed the “arrogance” of the Rajapaksa brothers for the current crisis in Sri Lanka.
“The developments in Sri Lanka are disturbing and worrying. I think the Sri Lankan leadership, particularly President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, should have decided to leave the scene much earlier,” Sajjanhar told PTI.
“Even now he is dragging his feet. Why is he saying that he will resign on July 13? What is the sanctity of July 13? He should go immediately and clear the way for the formation of an all-party government at the earliest,” he said.
On India’s reaction to the developments in Sri Lanka, Ambassador Kantha described it as “balanced and carefully-crafted”.
In its first reaction to the massive political turmoil in Colombo, India on Sunday said it stands with the Sri Lankan people in their aspirations for prosperity and progress through democratic means, values, established institutions and constitutional framework.
“India stands with the people of Sri Lanka as they seek to realize their aspirations for prosperity and progress through democratic means and values, established institutions and constitutional framework,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.



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