Sri Lankan Crisis: Military crackdown on protesters could worsen situation, warn experts
The island nation of Sri Lanka is now entering a new political phase since President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country after months of protests.
Strategic affairs experts cautioned on Wednesday that the situation in Sri Lanka is highly precarious and that any military or police crackdown on protesters could worsen the general atmosphere. The island nation is now entering a new political phase since President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country after months of protests.
They argued that it is crucial to prevent political instability in Sri Lanka and that all parties involved must cooperate to bring about political stability. In response to months of widespread protests over the island country's most significant economic crisis in decades, Rajapaksa and his wife flew to the Maldives. After appointing Wickremesinghe as the country's acting president, Rajapaksa instructed the military and police to take all necessary measures to restore peace and order.
"The situation is very uncertain at this point. It is very important that political anarchy is avoided, but at the same time any intervention by military and police through any crackdown could further worsen the situation," Ambassador Ashok K Kantha told PTI. Kantha served as Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka from 2009 to 2013.
"The situation is very difficult. But what is required today really is restoration of some kind of political stability within the bounds of the Sri Lankan constitution," Kantha said.
"This is a process that needs to play out within Sri Lanka itself and there is very little role for other countries including India," he added.
Kantha said steps must be taken to ensure that the political situation stabilises. "It must stabilise as quickly as possible because without a modicum of political stability, it will be very difficult for the government of Sri Lanka to address the unprecedented economic challenges," he said.
Ambassador Anil Wadhwa, a former secretary in the ministry of external affairs, said that the situation is in control now. "For India's sake, we just hope that the prime minister takes control. It is in our interest that there is no refugee flow into India as it could trigger a crisis of another dimension," he said.
Wadhwa said there is a need for an "urgent bailout package" for Sri Lanka by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). "Sooner the new government is formed, the better it is for Sri Lanka as it can address key issues," he said.
The former diplomat praised India's stance on the entire circumstance as well. India said on Sunday that it supports the Sri Lankan people in their aspirations for wealth and growth through democratic means, established institutions, and a constitutional framework as its initial response to the severe political unrest in Colombo.
Strategic affairs expert Prof S D Muni said things would not be easy for Sri Lanka in the next few months. Kantha said India helped Sri Lanka quite generously. Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe last week said Sri Lanka is now a bankrupt country. On Saturday, thousands of angry protesters stormed Rajapaksa's official residence and set Wickremesinghe's private house on fire.
(With inputs from PTI)