The Roots of Sri Lanka’s Political Crisis—and Why It May Not Be Over

The Roots of Sri Lanka’s Political Crisis—and Why It May Not Be Over
Supporters of the United National Party and ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe burn coffins to protest the government of disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Nov. 15, 2018 (AP photo by Rukmal Gamage).

The recent bout of unrest in Sri Lanka, sparked by President Maithripala Sirisena’s unexpected decision to fire the prime minister, concluded fairly peacefully. But many of the factors that have destabilized Sri Lankan politics in recent years remain unresolved—and will likely lead to more uncertainty in 2019.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka—For many Sri Lankans, the country’s recent political turmoil came on so quickly they couldn’t possibly have prepared for it.

Rami Singh, a delivery driver in his 20s, recalls barreling through this city’s hectic traffic on the night of Oct. 26 when, suddenly, he had to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting a crowd of protesters that had gathered outside Temple Trees, the British colonial-era complex surrounded by white walls that serves as the prime minister’s office and residence. “There were hundreds of people out on the street,” he says. “They were shouting and chanting, and I heard one of them say they had come to protect the prime minister, and that there had been a coup.”

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.