Were Local Politics or Geopolitical Rivalries Behind Sri Lanka’s Recent Coup Crisis?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, with his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe, at a meeting in New Delhi before Wickremesinghe was ousted from his post, Oct. 20, 2018 (AP photo).
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, with his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe, at a meeting in New Delhi before Wickremesinghe was ousted from his post, Oct. 20, 2018 (AP photo).

Sri Lanka recently emerged from a dangerous political crisis with its democracy and constitution miraculously intact. President Maithripala Sirisena’s attempted coup, in which he violated the constitution by replacing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with his bitter rival and presidential predecessor, Mahinda Rajapjaksa, was overturned thanks to Sri Lanka’s defiant Parliament, steadfast judiciary, a vigilant international community and a resilient civil society. The failed coup revealed Sri Lanka’s institutions to be sneakily strong, but as it barreled along, international and domestic watchers speculated about the nefarious role foreign actors may have played—especially India and China, which have long projected power in […]

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