Sri Lanka is sinking into crisis. After violent protests across the country demanding the departure of President Gotabaya Rajapaska and his brother Mahinda, who serves as prime minister, the government declared a state of emergency on Friday 1er April.
The army now has extensive powers to ensure public order and can arrest and detain people without a warrant. A 36-hour curfew was also imposed until Monday, in an attempt to prevent further protests. The population is forbidden to go out, to be on a public road, in a park, on a train or on the seaside, unless they have written authorization from the authorities. On Sunday, the Ministry of Defense ordered the suspension of all social networks, Facebook, Twitter, WhastApp, Viber, YouTube.
These authoritarian measures were taken after hundreds of people tried to break into the president’s home in Colombo, the capital, overnight from Thursday to Friday, shouting “Go away, Gota”. and that others were blocking traffic in several towns, setting fire to military buses and police vehicles. The President tried to reduce these protests to “extremist forces calling for an Arab spring”.
serious economic crisis
The anger of the Sri Lankans is much deeper, fueled by the very serious economic crisis that the country has been going through for two years. The drop in tourist numbers due to the Covid-19 epidemic, the decrease in transfers of income from the diaspora during the health crisis and the decisions taken completely out of time by the government such as the reduction in VAT and the abolition several taxes have dried up the coffers of a state that is crumbling under a debt of 51 billion dollars.
Sri Lanka no longer has foreign exchange reserves and dollars to import the goods necessary for the functioning of the island. The country lacks everything and has been experiencing shortages and power cuts since February. There is no more gasoline, no more gas, no more medicines, the shelves of food stores are empty and inflation is breaking records every month (18.7% in March). There is hardly a drop of fuel left in service stations and the transport of goods and people across the country is severely disrupted.
The management of Gotayaba Rajapaska, elected in November 2019, seven months after the Easter attacks committed against churches and hotels by the Islamic State organization and which left 258 dead, is severely questioned. He installed a real family clan at the head of the country. His brother Mahinda, who was president from 2005 to 2015, is prime minister, the key finance portfolio is held by another brother, Basil. In all five Rajapaska are in the executive.
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