Monday June 27, 2022

Sri Lanka’s embattled president escapes censure motion

May 18, 2022

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s beleaguered president side-stepped a censure motion on Tuesday after his fractured coalition rallied to delay a resolution blaming him for the country’s worst economic crisis.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s shaky coalition voted against taking up the unprecedented "displeasure of parliament" motion. The non-binding motion was proposed by the main opposition Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance, saying it echoed the demands of thousands of anti-government demonstrators who have for weeks been seeking Rajapaksa’s resignation. Shortages of food, fuel and medicines, along with record inflation and lengthy blackouts, have brought severe hardships to Sri Lankans, in the worst financial crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

The president’s elder brother Mahinda stepped down as prime minister last week and in a bid to defuse mounting public anger, Gotabaya appointed opposition politician Ranil Wickremesinghe to replace him. Wickremesinghe has won crucial support from the two main opposition parties to form a "unity government" to pull the country out of the dire economic crisis, but had yet to form a full cabinet on Monday afternoon.