Name? Gotabaya Rajapaksa
Westphalian identity? Sri Lankan
Why is he in the news? Protesters stormed the presidential palace in Sri Lanka, demanding President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign. Hundreds of thousands of protesters massed in the island’s capital. The protests are the result of ongoing economic and political unrest, meanwhile Gotabaya has announced he will resign this week.
Why do we care? This latest demonstration effectively spells the end of the political goliath that is the Rajapaksa family. For years, the Rajapaksa clan have had control of the country. From Mahinda Rajapaksa’s time as President and then Prime Minister, to his brother Gotabaya’s time in office, the dynasty has been heavily accused of corruption and human rights abuses. The ongoing crisis in Sri Lanka, largely due to the administration’s incompetence in handling economic decline during the pandemic, has been the final nail in the Rajapaksa koffin.
Why should you care? While the Sri Lankan people can celebrate a victory with their expulsion of Gotabaya, the only thing coming is more political instability. The weekend’s events are of course a win, but a new government will take time while Sri Lanka is in danger of falling even deeper into debt with international players. You should care 6/10 about Gotabaya’s departure.
Who else cares? China’s Xi Jinping. President Xi has been eyeing Sri Lanka for some time, hoping to fully incorporate the island into his Maritime Silk Road. Until now, Chinese influence has not been fully exerted in Sri Lanka, but with worsening instability on the island, Xi’s odds have increased.
Any further comments? One of the Rajapaksa’s worst decisions was the building of a $1.1 billion deep water port (money loaned from China). When the deep-water port failed to generate the foreign revenue needed to pay China back, Sri Lanka 2017 was forced to hand the facility and thousands of acres of land around it to Beijing for 99 years.