Sri Lanka protest movement reaches 100 days

The campaign to oust Mr. Rajapaksa, organised mainly through posts on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok, drew people from across Sri Lanka's often unbridgeable ethnic divides.

July 17, 2022 09:29 pm | Updated 09:29 pm IST - Colombo

Military personnel in ceremonial uniform lowers the national flag of Sri Lanka at Galle Face Green on July 17, 2022 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Military personnel in ceremonial uniform lowers the national flag of Sri Lanka at Galle Face Green on July 17, 2022 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sri Lanka's protest movement reached its 100th day Sunday having forced one president from office and now turning its sights on his successor as the country's economic crisis continues.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled his palace shortly before demonstrators invaded it last weekend and on Thursday resigned from the presidency.

His mismanagement is blamed for Sri Lanka's financial turmoil, which has forced its 22 million people to endure shortages of food, fuel and medicines since late last year.

The campaign to oust Mr. Rajapaksa, organised mainly through posts on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok, drew people from across Sri Lanka's often unbridgeable ethnic divides.

United by economic hardships, minority Tamils and Muslims joined the majority Sinhalese to demand the ouster of the once-powerful Rajapaksa clan.

It began as a two-day protest on April 9, when tens of thousands of people set up camp in front of Mr. Rajapaksa's office — a crowd so much larger than the organisers' expectations that they decided to stay on.

Under Sri Lanka's constitution, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was automatically installed as acting president following Mr. Rajapaksa's resignation, and is now the leading candidate to succeed him permanently in a parliamentary vote next week.

But the veteran politician is despised by the protesters as an ally of the Rajapaksa clan, four brothers who have dominated the island's politics for years.

Social media activist and protest campaign supporter Prasad Welikumbura said Mr. Wickremesinghe too should go.

"Its been 100 days since it started," Mr. Welikumbura said on Twitter.

"But, its still far from any concrete change in the system. #GoHomeRanil, #NotMyPresident."

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