In the first round of the popular uprising (May 9), Mahinda Rajapaksa stepped down as the Prime Minister and hid himself secretly. The second wave of the uprising had hit exactly after two months. During the July 9 uprising, the mass took over the Presidential Palace and Gotabaya was driven out of the country. Gotabaya, who has been an international refugee with no country to seek refuge, has been facing people’s protests everywhere he goes including Maldives and Singapore. These protests had also frightened the fascists of other countries also.
On the other hand, the Western imperialists including the US, and the Indian ruling classes, which wanted to oust the Rajapaksa clique from power and install their puppet Ranil in that place, accomplished their goal against this backdrop of the uprising. Ranil crowned himself as the interim President.
But the people’s agitation did not subside. Although the struggle began with the demand “Gota Go Home”, it was guided to the next level by the political front-liners with demands such as “New Constitution”, “Government with people’s participation”. The protests began to turn towards Ranil. Following the Presidential Palace, the Prime Minister’s Office was also besieged by the people. Moreover, the people rushed towards the parliament with the intention of besieging it.
Within hours of the Prime Minister’s Office being attacked, Ranil described the popular uprising as follows:
“We must end this fascist threat to democracy. We can’t allow the destruction of State property. Those who are in my office want to stop me from discharging my responsibilities as acting President. We can’t let them tear up our Constitution”.
Ranil’s speech signals that the ruling class was fearful of the popular uprising advancing towards its next goal. So it had openly stepped out to suppress the uprising. The police and the military were given the ultimate power to forcibly suppress the uprising.
Sensing this, the front-liners of the protests asked the people who had taken over the President’s Office and other government buildings to leave. People left the Presidential Palace with discipline and order.
Meanwhile, for the first time in the history of Sri Lanka, Presidential election took place inside the parliament. People knew that Ranil negotiated a deal with the Rajapaksa gang and considered him as the protector of the corrupt assets of the Rajapaksa clique. Hence the people called upon the political parties to defeat him. But the parliamentary pigs endorsed the will of the ruling class.
As Ranil Wickremesinghe’s main rival Sajith Premadasa withdrew his presidential candidacy at the last minute, Ranil easily won the presidential elections by defeating Dullas Alahapperuma and Anura Kumara by securing 134 votes.
Ranil does not even win a single seat. But Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), which has the highest number of seats in the parliament, assisted the victory of Ranil. Moreover, Ceylon Workers’ Congress and a few Tamil groups including Tamil People’s National Alliance also supported Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which had the largest number of seats among the Tamil parties, said that it will be supporting Dullas Alahapperuma. But later, it was reported that a faction of the party voted for Ranil. According to unconfirmed reports, the Deputy High Commissioner of the Indian High Commission had attended a meeting convened by the TNA on the night before the elections and requested it to support Ranil. Furthermore, it is to be noted that the Ceylon Workers’ Congress, which has the vote bank of Malaiyaha Tamils (Indian Tamils), also has close ties to the Indian ruling classes.
Ranil Wickremesinghe had sworn in as President on July 21. In the early morning of the very next day (July 22), the Galle Face protest camp was hunted down by the army. The army, which suddenly surrounded the ground in large numbers, smashed the camps. The protestors were indiscriminately attacked and driven away. The journalists gathered there also were not spared. The army even stopped an ambulance that had arrived to transport the injured. Ranil showed who he was within 24 hours.
When he took charge as Prime Minister under Gotabaya’s regime, Ranil expressed himself as a supporter of the Galle Face protest. But, it had now been exposed that his intention was to drive out the Rajapaksas and hold on to the throne.
A day before ransacking by the military, Ranil had announced that he would allot the Viharamahadevi Park to the protesters instead of the Galle Face ground, where the Presidential Secretariat is located. Moreover, a section of the protesters had formally announced that they would end the protest and leave. In this context, the Galle Face attack, which took place without prior notice, was a deliberately orchestrated fascist operation to intimidate the people.
The Ranil government not only suppressed the struggle but also demeaned the struggle with its filthy slanders. A rumour was spread that crores of rupees was suddenly credited to the bank accounts of some of the front-liners of the agitation by some people from outside to sustain the Galle Face protests. Sri Lankan intelligence itself had declared that it was fake information. However, slandering by the stooges continue.
Ranil is appointing many people under the name of all-party government. MP Dinesh Gunawardena, who was Ranil’s school friend, was appointed as the Prime Minister. He is known to be closely associated with the Rajapaksas. Ranil has re-appointed many persons who were part of the previous cabinet formed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
An all-party government is a government that is formed in consultation with all the political parties which have representation in the parliament and thereby ensuring equal participation of all the parties. But, Ranil is appointing the persons of his choice. Ranil is refusing to follow even the usual shams of the bourgeois democracy.
On one hand, the army and the police are hunting down the protesters. The Ranil government is engaged in the treacherous task of arresting the front-liners and suppressing the protests. On the other hand, Gotabaya had fled. And the ruling class is campaigning that continuing the protests will only intensify the economic crisis. The US had urged the Sri Lankan government to work quickly to achieve ‘political stability’.
What is Ranil really going to do? He is going to follow the same recolonizational path which led to the bankruptcy of Sri Lanka. He will travel on this path by actively carrying out the dictates laid down by the IMF and the World Bank. That is why, the US is keen on maintaining ‘political stability’ in Sri Lanka.
The uprising of the working people of Sri Lanka has to move forward without the fear of repression and without falling prey to the slander and diversion tactics.
Ranil’s anti-people arrangement of an ‘all-party government’ must be overthrown. And, as the Galle Face Declaration put forward, ‘a provisional government with the participation of the representatives of the protesting people’ must be established immediately. That will be the beginning of the path to dawn. The first two uprisings drove away the Rajapaksas. The international proletariat is looking forward for the third round of the uprising to drive Ranil out of the country.