Sri Lankan President Stepping Down Brews Turmoil

Image by Mal B is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a former Sri Lankan military officer and president, recently stepped down from office on July 14, 2022. Due to Sri Lanka being under many political and economic struggles in the past few months, there were an excessive amount of protests in the hope that the president would resign and leave office. 

At the beginning of Rajapaksa’s presidency, there was a lot of hope that the presidency would bring the country a lot more political help, as he had brought such great military power in his earlier years. However, as Sri Lanka started having a greater economic decline, it became obvious that the president was of no help, as it seemed that the government was not as connected with the public and their needs as expected. 

There were many pieces to the great fall of Rajapaksa, with the biggest and most important one being the fact that Rajapaksa’s family held an immense amount of political power that was used in corrupt ways. According to an article on Firstpost, the family began by starting a freedom party called the Sri Lanka Freedom Party or the SLLP, which was the main party in power after the country had gained independence. During the early years of this party, the Sri Lankan government had to face the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) — a military group that was dedicated to fighting for the Hindu Tamils in the northern part of Sri Lanka. When the SLLP defeated the LTTE, they became sensational powers in the newly independent Sri Lanka. 

Following this, the family took their power and used it in corrupt manners. According to Firstpost, whenever someone was to talk bad about the government, they would disappear. However, when the government finally went down and Rajapaksa took over, he vowed to bring back economic and political power to the country. During this time, Rajapaksa tried to pay back the loans that were taken from countries like China, but because there were terrorist attacks around the area they were unable to do so. To build economically and financially from the attacks, the country continued to take loans from China according to South Asia Monitor, whilst also falling deep into an economic downfall and not being able to pay China back. 

Eventually, this led to the country facing even worse problems — starting with the biggest and most important one being the food shortage. Due to the lack of attention given to the food policies, the majority of the food sold in Sri Lanka was incredibly overpriced resulting in thousands of people starving and then causing food shortages — starting more protests and catching the public’s attention.

Following all these issues, the house where Rajapaksa stayed was raided and then he was taken to a disclosed location. When he finally returned, he left for the Maldives because all of Sri Lanka was protesting for him to leave office. Finally, on July 14, Rajapaksa resigned from office leaving the country with piles of debt and in the biggest economic decline in its history.