Status: 07/20/2022 1:26 p.m.
Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe is not a fresh start for protesters. He does not have the “mandate of the people here”, they point out, and do not trust him to get the country out of the economic crisis.
Tears are streaming down people’s cheeks. Dozens of people sat outside the president’s office that morning, peacefully awaiting the election. “Our whole country has suffered like hell from corrupt leaders,” says activist Mitha Abeyratne. “They stole money that belongs to us, our whole nation. And our people are dying because they have to line up day and night.”
Yesterday protesters set fire to a straw doll. It bore the name and face of Ranil Wickremesinghe. Thus by the one who has just been elected president – also with the votes of the party of the former president, Gotabaya Rajapakse.
Gota, as people call it in Sri Lanka, was stormed last week just before thousands stormed its palace. He had fled to the Maldives with his family, then to Singapore. From there, he announced his resignation by e-mail.
“We also want him to resign from his post”
Soon after, the protests grew smaller and calmer. Many are now curious to see how the situation will evolve in Colombo, as protesters also count the new president among the old political elite and do not trust him to lead the country out of the economic crisis.
“Ranil Wickremesinghe does not have the mandate of the people here,” said one of the protesters in a video released by the Reuters news agency. “We want him to resign from his post as well.”
The currency has lost 80% of its value
Wickremesinghe himself, however, strongly believes he can pull his country out of crisis. In a speech shortly after his election, he said the country was in a “very difficult economic situation”. According to Wickremesinghe, the whole world is in trouble. “To move forward, we need a new agenda. People are demanding that we do not continue with our old policies. Together we must now tackle all our problems.”
A difficult economic situation is quite an understatement. Sri Lanka is bankrupt. Has over $50 billion in foreign debt. The currency has lost 80% of its value.
The country has not been able to import the most important goods for months: medicine, fuel, cooking gas. People have been queuing for days in the heat for months, and some have died in the process. Frustration, hunger and anger drove people onto the streets of the capital Colombo for more than 100 days.
Many now assume that the anger over the election of the new president from the old political guard is so great that the protests will continue.
Sri Lanka elected – A new president from the old guard
Silke Dittrich, ARD New Delhi, 20.7.2022 12:59 p.m.