Sri Lanka’s persistent political crisis “without a government or a Prime Minister” could embolden anti-social elements to take law into their own hands, Leader of Opposition R. Sampanthan has warned. “In such a situation, the country’s minorities, especially Tamils, may become the victims,” he said.
Mr. Sampanthan, who also leads the Tamil National Alliance, told reporters that its 14 MPs on Tuesday briefed Colombo-based diplomats on current political developments. “Such turbulence seriously impairs ongoing efforts for a political solution through constitutional reform,” he said.
The government’s assurance on returning the remaining military-occupied land belonging to civilians in war-affected areas, the release of political prisoners, ongoing work of the office on missing persons and efforts to set up the office for reparations are all in serious question, according to the Tamil leader.
The latest report on constitutional reform was scheduled to be tabled in Parliament on November 7, but proceedings have been disrupted for over three weeks now.
“It is unacceptable that all these efforts are getting stalled in the absence of a government or a PM. Action should be taken immediately to resolve the crisis,” Mr. Sampanthan said. Observing that illegal power spells dangerous consequences, he said: “The diplomats have said we will do what we can do” in regard to the situation.
After President Maithripala Siriena abruptly appointed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in place of incumbent PM Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26, no foreign government has officially congratulated or acknowledged the purported new administration. Mr. Rajapaksa, who has since lost three votes in Parliament without proving a majority, has refused to step down, prolonging the political upheaval in the island.
Following the crisis, Sri Lanka’s economy has been badly affected and the country is in a precarious situation without a budget for the new year, according to Mangala Samaraweera, who served as Finance Minister in the controversially ousted government. “Just 9 days prior to the presentation of the 2019 budget, the Sirisena-Rajapaksa coup has thrown the country and citizens into an unprecedented crisis,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
In the absence of a legitimate government, a grave situation has now arisen as there is no legal way to meet public expenditure and obligations of the state from 2019, Mr. Samaraweera said. As Finance Minister he had made allocations to ensure funding until December 31, 2018. “However from January 1, 2019, the country will fall into a crisis”, he said, adding that Sri Lanka was on the brink of economic collapse as it stumbled “on to a road of a Greece like situation”.