An Echelon Media Company
Tuesday April 16th, 2024

Sri Lanka protest site started to oust Prime Minister

Protestors at Mynagogama

ECONOMYNEXT – Protesters in Sri Lanka who have been camping outside the president’s office for 19 days in a row demanding that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa step down have set up a new protest site outside Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s official residence Temple Trees demanding his resignation.

Named “Myna Go Gama” – Myna (as in the bird) being a recently established nickname for the PM – the new site takes after the main protest site at the Galle Face Green named Gota Go Gama. The new site was opened after police failed to obtain a court order preventing its establishment near the Galle Road entrance of Temple Trees. A number of luxury hotels and embassies exist on this particular stretch of road.

Police had parked four buses and a truck to prevent protesters sitting on the pavement by Temple Trees. However, the organisers got creative and found a gap between a bus and truck to put up a tent and start their agitation to oust the second-most powerful Rajapaksa, who was Sri Lanka’s president from 2005 to 2015.

Protesters hung an old picture of Rajapaksa with a Hitleresque toothbrush moustache on a nearby lamp post, with two small white flags hoisted on either side of the picture, presumably signifying death. Some of the protestors stuck their anti-Rajapaksa placards on the buses parked nearby.

Many protesters said they found it difficult to voice their demands because of loud Buddhist pirith chanting coming out of the PM’s residence. The chanting was drowning out the protestors’ voices to the point even their comments to the media were barely audible.

Placards carried slogans like “you destroyed the feature we dreamt of” and “We need justice for Rambukkana killing”, referring to a police shoot in the central district of Kegalle that left a protestor dead.

Widespread protests started around Sri Lanka following shortages of essentials like milk powder, medicines, fuel, and cooking gas amid extended power cuts. A police attack on a March 31 protest, President Rajapaksa’s declaration of emergency law followed by a 36-hour curfew, and temporary a social media ban aggravated middle class youth who had never been to a protest.

Meaningful protests

Many people now see the protests as something meaningful because they have already delivered some results which they see as positive.

The protests have forced the resignation of the previous cabinet and central bank governor who had stubbornly resisted seeking IMF assistance in addressing the economic crisis.

They have also precipitated the resignation of all Rajapaksas from their ministerial positions excepts for the president and prime minister so far.

“A couple of us at Gotagogama decided to come and have an organised protest here, because we wanted to show that the protests are not violent or destructive,” Chamara Jayakody, a 29-year old tourism sector employee told EconomyNext.

“The Government wants to create a picture that protesters were causing social instability, but that is not the case. We encourage people to join us in this collective fight. Our problem is not only with Gotabaya Rajapaksa, but this entire system.”

“There are no jobs anymore. People can’t even pluck coconuts because people don’t have the money to hire them. That is how low we have fallen.”

The “MynaGoGama” is just 2.1km away from the main protest site at GotaGoGama.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa, who had been widely respected and almost deified by the majority Sinhala Buddhists for his leadership role in ending Sri Lanka’s 26-year war, is fast losing his appeal, analysts say.

Political crisis

The economic crisis has now turned into a political crisis with the demand for the resignation of both President and Prime Minister Rajapaksa on the rise.

Some protestors shouted “Old Mahinda, go home’ while screamed leveled allegations of corruption under him.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa has responded to his critics and said he can even run with the youth and that he still follows his physical exercise routines. The 76-year old veteran politician on Tuesday (26) said he will not resign unless somebody removes him.

Ven Pussiyankulame Sumanarathana Thera, a monk from Sri Lanka’s North-central district of Anuradhapura had travelled to Colombo after he heard that protesters were backed by some parties with vested interest and extremists.

“I came all the way from Anuradhapura because I heard these protests were backed by NGOs and extremists. But what i saw was that the protesters are from all walks of life who are affected by the ongoing economic crisis. I don’t think the Sri Lankan people will let politicians steal in this manner again, or use racism as a tool to gain political power,” he said.

“People are enduring much hardship to be here, they sleep in tents, and the rain often leaks through,the ground gets muddy and it is mostly impossible to sleep. People who see me often offer a comfortable place for me to pass the night, but a revolution has to be done from the site of the struggle, and I and everyone else will be here until the end, enduring all the hardships.”

Most other demonstrators said they were there to support the youth of the country and the people who are going through hardships due to these crisis.

“I used to do import and export business and we have enough meals to eat too but I am here everyday because I want to support the youth. Rajapaksas have stolen our country,” said a mother of two.

Rajapaksas have denied corruption allegations, claiming all charges are fabricated by opposition parties. However, many Rajapaksa critics have said the first family always used the government as their family business. (ColomboApr26/2022)

Comments (2)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Lakdasa De Silva says:

    Bus Service
    Is there a bus service from ” Gota Go Gama” to ” Myna Go Gama” ?

  2. John Perera says:

    When people finally realize that the president is not only corrupt but is war criminal ……then we will really start to see the beginnings of a new and decent Sri lanka.

View all comments (2)

Comments (2)

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Lakdasa De Silva says:

    Bus Service
    Is there a bus service from ” Gota Go Gama” to ” Myna Go Gama” ?

  2. John Perera says:

    When people finally realize that the president is not only corrupt but is war criminal ……then we will really start to see the beginnings of a new and decent Sri lanka.

IMF urged Sri Lanka to preserve “hard earned gains” after economic crisis: State FinMin

ECONOMYNEXT – The International Monetary Fund has urged Sri Lanka to preserve the hard earned gains after an unprecedented economic crisis under the global lender’s programme, State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe said.

The Sri Lankan delegation led by Shehan Semasinghe met Kenji Okamura, the Deputy Managjng Director of the IMF on the first day of the IMF and  World Bank Spring meeting.

“Mr. Okamura commended the Sri Lankan authorities on strong programme implementation and excellent reform progress. He emphasised the need to preserve the hard earned gains Sri Lanka has experienced since the beginning of the IMF programme and continue strong ownership,” the State Minister said in his X (Twitter) platform.

He said the Sri Lankan delegation including Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe and Secretary to the Treasury Mahinda Siriwardana explained the recent socio-economic developments to Okamura.

He also affirmed the IMF top official on the authorities’ commitment to ensuring continuity and consistency of macroeconomic policies and reforms undertaken under the programme. (Colombo/April 16/2024)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka State FinMin meets BCIU in US; discusses post-crisis investment prospects 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe met Business Council for International Understanding( BCIU) in Washington on the sideline of the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings late on Monday and discussed investment prospects in the island nation which is gradually recovering from an unprecedented economic crisis.
“Our discussion centered on the potential that Sri Lanka offers for international investors. Explored various sectors, including education, tourism, renewable energy, agriculture and technology, where strategic investments can drive sustainable economic growth and development,” Semasinghe said in his X (Twitter) platform. 
“We reviewed the current macro-economic landscape of Sri Lanka, including recent reforms that have transformed to results. Glad to concluded the forum by marking constructive dialogue and a shared commitment to support the economic development of Sri Lanka.” 
“We thank participants, stakeholders holders and global partners for the significant interest shown in unlocking the full potential of the Sri Lankan economy and fostering greater international understanding and cooperation.” (Colombo/April 16/2024) 
Continue Reading

India allows Sri Lanka to import 10,000MT of onions

ECONOMYNEXT – India has relaxed an export ban allowing 10,000 metric tonnes of onions to be shipped to Sri Lanka, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said.

“The exemption for Sri Lanka reiterated India’s Neighbourhood First policy, adding to the Sinhala and Tamil New Year festivities here,” the statement said.

Onion prices went up in Sri Lanka after India and Pakistan banned exports.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade has issued a notice allowing National Co-operative Exports Limited to ship 10,000 MT of onions.

The UAE has also been allowed to import 10,000MT of onions on top of 24,400MT already permitted.

A large Indian and South Asian expat community lives in the UAE. (Colombo/Apr15/2024)

Continue Reading