Crisis in Sri Lanka

July 11, 2022

We can’t be in an anarchical condition. We have to somehow reach a consensus today.

Sri Lankan lawmaker Udaya Gammanpila on the current crisis Sri Lanka is facing after protestors stormed the president’s and prime minister’s residences over the weekend.

Why It Matters: Amid the worst financial crisis in 70 years and concerns of political corruption in Sri Lanka, protestors stormed the residences of the president and prime minister on Saturday in an effort to overthrow the current government. Both leaders have agreed to resign, while questions remain as to when a new government will be formed to fill the political void now created and what that will look like for the country’s future.

  • Last week, while discussing the government’s efforts to secure financial aid as a part of a bail out program from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that the country was bankrupt.
  • The country’s economy has weakened due to several factors, including a drop-off in tourism after terror attacks in 2019 and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the Associated Press reports that the country’s currency “has collapsed by 80%, making imports more expensive and worsening inflation that is already out of control, with food costs rising 57%.”
  • All of this has impacted the roughly 22 million people of Sri Lanka: “The U.N. World Food Program says nearly nine of 10 families are skipping meals or otherwise skimping to stretch out their food, while 3 million are receiving emergency humanitarian aid” (Associated Press).
  • Big Picture: Protestors set fire to the prime minister’s residence on Saturday night and vowed to stay at the president’s residence until the resignations from the president and prime minister are officially complete. Meanwhile, opposition party officials are in ongoing discussions to form a “unity government” (a government formed by an alliance of political parties, typically in response to a national emergency) to fill the void during the crisis.

EXPLAINER: Why Sri Lanka’s economy collapsed and what’s next (Associated Press)

Sri Lanka in political vacuum as talks go on amid crisis (Associated Press)

by Jenna Lee,