Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa retained his family’s defiant tone in the face of mounting protests, leaning on his success in ending the nation’s bloody civil war to seek patience from citizens as prices surge and shortages worsen.
In a televised speech Monday, Rajapaksa — who’s credited with a military victory in 2009 that ended the 26-year separatist conflict — said demonstrators yelling slogans against inflation and electricity outages can do so only because of the efforts of the war heroes.
“We did not end the war to bring people to suffering like this,” Rajapaksa said, adding that while Sri Lanka is falling “into a deep trench” his government will offer solutions. But he did not offer any details of these solutions.
The pre-scheduled address to the nation had sparked speculation that Rajapaksa would resign to make room for his brother — President Gotabaya Rajapaksa — to appoint a premier more palatable to the opposition. Instead, the six-minute speech attacked the opposition for refusing to work with the government and accused it of indulging in petty politics.
The President and his brother Gotabaya Rajapakse has not publicly spoken about how intends to resolve the economic crisis. A former Prime Minster Ranil Wickramasinghe recently asked the President to address the nation with his ideas on how he intends to resolve the economic hardships and the ongoing severe economic downturn facing the country.
Sri Lanka’s cabinet resigned en masse last week and the opposition parties have declined to form an all-party government until parliament abolishes some of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s wide-ranging executive powers. The political vacuum is making it harder to negotiate a much-needed bailout from the International Monetary Fund