Sri Lanka Democracy Movement at the Crossroads

By Abayomi Azikiwe, August 4, 2022

For several months the nation of Sri Lanka has been imperiled with the looming threat of complete economic collapse as fuel, food and other commodity prices skyrocketed.

Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa became the central focus of the youth-led democracy movement as the GotaGoGama encampment was established demanding the immediate resignation of Rajapaksa as president and the removal of his cabinet.

At its height the camp’s activism attracted tens of thousands of people demanding an end to the former administration. Eventually the presidential compound was overrun by angry protesters necessitating the removal of Rajapaksa as president.

These events have sparked a debate within the democracy movement on a possible shift in tactics and strategy.  Some felt that the growth of the GotaGoGama camp served its purpose in the removal of the ousted regime during July. At the same time, there are others who take a different view of the current situation recognizing that nothing has changed fundamentally for the majority of the people in Sri Lanka with the ascendancy of a career politician to the position of president.

After the fleeing into exile of Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed president by a majority within the Sri Lankan parliament. Although Rajapaksa fled due to political unrest, Wickremesinghe immediately imposed a state of emergency as a first step in plans to remove democracy movement demonstrators away from the central areas of the capital and the presidential residence which had been stormed in mid-July….

Sri Lankan demonstrators protest their removal from the encampment in Colombo.

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