Home » Sri Lanka gets new President: A timeline of the crisis that crippled the nation

Sri Lanka gets new President: A timeline of the crisis that crippled the nation



oi-Prakash KL

| Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2022, 14:32 [IST]

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New Delhi, July 21: Veteran politician Ranil Wickremesinghe was on Thursday sworn in as Sri Lanka's president. He will face the tough task of leading the country out of its unprecedented economic crisis and restoring order after months of mass anti-government protests.

Sri Lanka gets new President: A timeline of the crisis that crippled the nation

Wickremesinghe, who took over as the Acting President after his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapksa fled the country and resigned last week, is the first Sri Lankan president to be elected by Parliament following a vote.

Beijing backs Rajapaksa- version rule in Sri LankaBeijing backs Rajapaksa- version rule in Sri Lanka

Here's the timeline of the Sri Lankan political crisis:

March 16: Tens of thousands of supporters of the opposition party, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) led by Sajith Premadasa, carried out protests in front of the President's office, demanding that the President resign from his position.

March 31: Hundreds of protesters held a demonstration at Pangiriwatte Road, Mirihana, where President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's residence is situated. Hundreds stormed the home of the President on Thursday night, demanding his resignation.

The protest was initially spontaneous and peaceful until the police attacked the protesters with tear gas and water cannons. Protesters then set fire to two military buses and a police jeep, hurled stones at officers, and blocked Colombo's main highway by burning tires.

April 1: Over 300 lawyers appeared at the Mirihana Police to represent the arrested protesters free of charge. A statement from the president's office said the protests were led by extremist forces who were inviting the Arab Spring to destabilize the country.

April 2: President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a nationwide public emergency. A 36-hour island-wide curfew was imposed from 6:00 pm on the same day until 6:00 am on 4 April. The sudden announcement resulted in panic-buying, creating long lines of people outside supermarkets and pharmacies.

April 3: Social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube blocked for 15 hours.

April 3: Oshada Senanayake, the Chairman of the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka, tendered his resignation amidst the social media blackout, stating that he was standing by his ethos and principles.

April 3: Several Rajapaksa cabinet ministers submitted their resignation letters. Those resigning included the Sports and Youth Minister and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's son Namal Rajapaksa.

April 4: Central Bank governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal also resigned as a result of growing public anger.

April 4: President Rajapaksa invited the opposition to join his proposed unity government to find a solution to the crisis.

April 4: Gotabaya Rajapaksa reshuffled the ministerial portfolios by swearing in Ali Sabry as Finance Minister, G L Peiris as Foreign Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena as Education Minister, and Johnston Fernando as Minister of Highways.

April 5: The parliament reconvened for the first time since the state of emergency began to discuss the current state of affairs. The ruling party loses support from its key allies.

April 5: The Government Medical Officers' Association and government doctors staged protests against the government, and the Government Medical Officers' Association declared a national health emergency due to the limited supply of essential medicines.

April 5: Gotabaya Rajapaksa revoked the state of emergency effective on midnight of 5 April.

April 7: Former deputy governor of Central Bank Nandalal Weerasinghe resumes duties as CBSL governor.

April 8: Sri Lanka cricket legends including Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama raise their voice against the government.

April 9: Tens of thousands of people gathered in large numbers joined the protests in Galle Face making it one of the largest street protests in Sri Lanka.

April 11: Shiraz Shiraz, a popular Sri Lankan rapper died due to a sudden heart attack during the protests which also marked the first death reported directly linked with the Galle Face protests.

April 15: Former Sri Lankan cricketer Dhammika Prasad went on a hunger strike for 24 hours urging the leaders of Sri Lanka to give justice to the Easter Sunday attack victims and urged that immediate measures to be taken to ease the burden of the economic crisis on the population.

Former Sri Lankan cricketers Arjuna Ranatunga and Sidath Wettimuny joined the Galle Face protests.

April 18: Some Sri Lankan social media users on Twitter called for American billionaire investor Elon Musk to buy Sri Lanka, which has a debt burden of US$45 billion, instead of buying Twitter for US$43 billion and urged him to rename himself Ceylon Musk.

April 19: People, who were standing in long queues to obtain fuel since early morning on 19 April, staged a protest at the Rambukkana Crossing by obstructing the railway tracks, completely blocking the area. The protesters blocked all entry and exit roads to Rambukkana town for more than 15 hours.

April 29: The protestors blindfolded the statue of former Prime Minister of Ceylon, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike who was known for bringing the controversial infamous Sinhala Only Act in 1956.

May 6: President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa declared a second state of emergency.

May 9: Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned after clinging on to power for weeks, following unprecedented anti-government protests demanding his ouster as well as the administration led by his younger brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the country's worst economic crisis that led to acute shortages of staple food, fuel and power.

May 12: After Sajith Premadasa rejected the offer to become PM, Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as prime minister for a record sixth time with the backing of the Rajapaksas.

July 9: Protesters stormed into the residences of Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe, demanding their resignations.

July 9: Amid rumours of Rajapaksa fleeing in the country, Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that the former had agreed to put in his papers on July 13. On the same night, the protestors set the PM's private house on fire.

For the next few days, the protesters spend time at the residences of Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe - playing cards, taking dip in the swimming poll and cooking.

July 13: After a few failed attempts, Gotabaya Rajapaksa flew out of his country to the Maldives. He took off from the country for the Maldives on an Antonov-32 military aircraft with his wife and a bodyguard who were among four passengers on board, the media reports stated citing immigration sources.

July 14: After months of protest, Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa finally stepped down on July 14. However, it was accepted a day later by the Speaker.

July 15: Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the Acting President, taking his oath of office before Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya.

July 21: Despite being widely unpopular, veteran politician Ranil Wickremesinghe takes oath as the president of Lanka.


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