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UN chief on Sri Lanka crisis Important that protestors' grievances addressed

2022-07-15 00:00:00

International

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As the crisis in Sri Lanka worsens, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday said that he is following the situation in the island nation very closely . Urging all party leaders to embrace the spirit of compromise for a peaceful and democratic transition , the UN chief said that the root causes of the conflict and protestors grievances must be addressed. I continue to follow the situation in Sri Lanka very closely. It is important that the root causes of the conflict and protestors grievances are addressed. I urge all party leaders to embrace the spirit of compromise for a peaceful and democratic transition, the UN chief wrote on Twitter.Over the past two weeks, the political turmoil in Sri Lanka has worsened the crisis. While angry protests continue across the island nation against Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the military and police forces are using tear gas shells to disperse the protesters. Gotabaya Rajapaksa s exit from the island nation has deepened tensions.Rajapaksa announced news of his resignation after his presidential palace was breached by demonstrators.

On the same day, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe s house was set ablaze.It was another day of chaos on Wednesday as Wickremesinghe s office was targeted. In view of this, Wickremesinghe who had also said last week that he would step down on Wednesday declared a state of emergency. He is now the acting president, which has further riled up the demonstrators.After Gotabaya Rajapaksa exited the island nation to the Maldives, prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe took over as acting president.Meanwhile, according to speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, the president had repeatedly assured the speaker of parliament that he would step down on Wednesday, but his resignation letter had not arrived as of early Thursday.The island nation which has over 50 billion in debt is now set to get a new president on July 20.Known as The Terminator to family and foes alike for his ruthless crushing of Tamil rebels to end a decades long civil war, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa s rule is drawing to a close with him a fugitive and his island s economy in ruins.Rajapaksa, one of a clan of four brothers who have dominated the country s politics in recent years, was defence secretary under his brother Mahinda s Rajapaksa s presidency from 2005 15.He denied allegations that at least 40,000 minority Tamil civilians were killed by troops under his command during the closing months of the war, but the accusations bolstered his tough guy image in the eyes of the majority Sinhalese.He was also considered the architect of white van abductions under Mahinda, when dissidents and journalists were grabbed in unmarked vehicles and disappeared, allegedly the victims of extrajudicial killings.He made no bones about winning the 2019 elections with the overwhelming support of his own majority Sinhala Buddhist community.The Rajapaksa dynasty dominated Sri Lankan politics until April when street protests against fuel and food shortages began to slip out of control.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country early on Wednesday, leaving no one from the once illustrious family in a position of power.The president vowed last month to stay on until his five year term ended in 2024, despite the anger his tenure prompted among the people. Thousands of Sri Lankans stormed his official residence on Saturday, forcing him to go into hiding and agree to step down. He was to have done so on Wednesday. One day this had to happen, said Mallawaara Arachchi, a 73 year old retired engineer, as he wandered around the official residence of the prime minister last occupied by Rajapaksa s elder brother, Mahinda, and now also by protesters. They have robbed everything from the people, he said. But with the family gone we will be the best country in the world in the near future .Mahinda resigned in May, thus ending his son Yoshith s stint as chief of staff. His other son, Namal, elder brother Chamal and younger brothers Basil and Shasheendra quit as ministers in April.Former finance minister Basil, who also holds US citizenship, was stopped at the airport from fleeing the country on Tuesday by immigration officials wary of the public response if he had been allowed to leave.The country of 22 million has barely any dollars left to import fuel, it has defaulted on billions of dollars of foreign loans, headline inflation hit 54.6 last month with more dire predictions, while schools and offices stay shut to conserve petrol and diesel.It is the most debilitating political and economic crisis to hit the country since independence in 1948, including during a brutal civil war in which Gotabaya Rajapaksa, as defence secretary, oversaw the crushing of Tamil Tiger insurgents in 2009.

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