Sri Lankan president desperately tries to rally support
12 September 2017
Recent public remarks by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena underline the growing crisis of the “unity” government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) and the president’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
Sirisena became president in 2015 after a US-backed regime-change operation to unseat the former President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government in the presidential elections. The US and India were hostile to Rajapakse close relations with Beijing and wanted Sri Lanka brought into line with Washington’s geo-strategic buildup against China. Sirisena and his political allies won support by exploiting popular anger over Rajapakse’s socially-destructive policies and his autocratic methods of rule.
Just two and half years later, wide layers of workers, students and youth have drawn the conclusion that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government’s retrogressive social program is no different to that of Rajapakse and the current administration is even more ruthless in implementing its policies.
Like its predecessor, the current administration is imposing the austerity demands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), attacking workers’ jobs and living conditions and cutting its minimal subsidies for small farmers and the poor. Rather than honour Sirisena’s phony reform promises during the 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections, the new government is systematically undermining basic democratic rights.
Former President Rajapakse now heads a breakaway parliamentary faction of the SLFP known as the Joint Opposition (JO) and hopes, with the support of former coalition partners, to bring down the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration and…