Former PM Mahinda Rajapaksa, son barred from leaving Sri Lanka; once-powerful family fights for political survival
The Rajapaksa family, which dominated the country’s politics for much of the last two decades, today is struggling for its political survival in the face of the worst economic crisis since the country's independence in 1948
In yet another setback to Sri Lanka’s once-powerful Rajapaksa family, a magistrate's court on Thursday barred former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, his son Namal Rajapaksa and other leaders associated with them from leaving the country. The development came three days after he resigned following widespread violence and sought refuge along with his family at a naval base.
Hearing a petition over violence against anti-government demonstrators, the court in Colombo ordered the travel ban on a total of 17 people, including the father-son duo, and ordered police to investigate mob attacks on peaceful protesters on Monday.
Violence, which claimed nine lives and resulted in the destruction of public and private properties, was sparked after Rajapaksa’s supporters allegedly attacked anti-government supporters outside his official residence Temple Trees and other parts of the city.
Significantly, the attacks and counterattacks started following a meeting between the former prime minister and his followers. Petitioners in his plea also sought the issuance of an arrest warrant against Rajapaksa and his associates. Reacting to the order, Namal Rajapaksa, a former minister, said he will extend full cooperation to any investigation with regard to the unfortunate events of violence on Monday. "Neither my father nor myself have any intention to leave #LKA [Sri Lanka] and will continue to remain here," he said in a tweet.
The former prime minister is currently housed in Trincomalee Naval Base in the eastern part of the country, Defense Secretary Kamal Gunaratne confirmed on Wednesday, citing threats and security concerns after hundreds of protestors tried to storm Temple Trees on the night he resigned from the post.
Gunaratne said Rajapaksa will be entitled to government security just like any other former prime minister and president. He will be shifted to place his choice once the situation became normal, he added.
The Rajapaksa family, which dominated the country’s politics for much of the last two decades, today is struggling for its political survival in the face of the worst economic crisis since the country's independence in 1948.
Until a few months back, five members of the family were serving in the cabinet; today President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the only one from the family still in power, whose authority is now increasingly being questioned and disputed by the public and political opponents alike. (SAM)