Sri Lanka faces a darker future if president fails to ditch wealthy elites


Sri Lankans rose up in their hundreds of thousands and clamoured for change – instead they have been handed more of the same.

President-elect Ranil Wickremesinghe has been prime minister six times, is a veteran of 50 years in the swamps of Sri Lankan politics, and is closely aligned with the elites that have brought so much ruin to this country.

On the steps of a Buddhist monastery he mocked claims he was an old friend of the Rajapaksas.

No surprise he disowned them. Sri Lankans blame the family of billionaires for their crippling economic crisis.

But he knows the people believe he has been, and remains their close ally.

Ranil Wickremesinghe has been elected as the Eighth Executive President

Gotbaya Rajapaksa may have been ousted from office by Sri Lanka’s extraordinary people power uprising, but the family still has enormous clout in parliament.

Protestors told Sky News they have no doubt the Rajapaksas’ wealth and influence helped secure Wickremesinghe’s shock victory when MPs voted to replace the disgraced ex-president.

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Wickremesinghe told Sky News he has no plans to call fresh elections. Without them, Sri Lanka’s crisis will surely only deepen.

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The country is in economic freefall and for millions of people, life is a daily struggle for survival with the barest essentials in short supply, from fuel to food to medicine.

Politically it remains in crisis. The masses have demanded change but they say the system has just gone back to square one.

Protestors chant slogans during a protest against Sri Lanka's newly elected President Ranil Wickremesinghe, amid the country's economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka July 20, 2022. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The last few weeks have seen a titanic struggle between the masses and the parliament meant to represent them, but instead most believe it is in hock to rich elites.

The elites are unlikely to support reforms that weaken their grasp on power, but without the system changing, massive popular discontent will only continue.

Wickremesinghe has declared a state of emergency and protestors believe he may use it mobilise the military and crush unrest.

He has the opportunity to prove them wrong and usher in the kind of economic and political reforms this country so badly needs. Otherwise it faces an even darker future.

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