Sri Lankan expats in the Sultanate are hoping peace prevails back home, as the Indian Ocean island finds itself in the middle of another political crisis.
A political firestorm erupted after Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena decided to fire his Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, on October 26, replacing him with former strongman Mahinda Rajapakse, in a move many around the world regarded as unconstitutional.
With both the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party taking the fight to parliament, the crisis has continued unabated.
Speaking to the Times of Oman, Hari, a native of Galle, said, “We have two prime ministers right now. The country is not stable and these politicians, as usual, are playing with our lives. Some say that elections are the solution. Even if we have an election, the same old corrupt politicians will come to power. People are helpless right now.”
The crisis, he explained, was yet another catastrophe affecting his native land.
“It is becoming like a cursed island. Criminal activity is rising day by day. And poverty and farmer suicides are also on the rise. We need a leader who will fix all this. We need peace between religions. Religions should not be used for fighting. Faith is the most peaceful thing in the world,” he added.
Reflecting on the plight of his family, Aditya from Colombo stated, “My family is fine because I am sending money from here, so they can manage. But the problem is some government organisations are not functioning effectively because of this political crisis. However, we are all scared that the USA may apply some restrictions, as they have said. If they apply some restrictions on Sri Lanka, and for example, stop goods, even if we have money, we won’t be able to buy anything.”
“Most of the products come from outside the country, so we are all scared about that. That is something that cannot be mitigated with money. There is also a strong fear that the political parties could fight over this,” he said.
The fear of war looms large over the country, which only emerged from a civil war after more than a quarter of a century of violence. The conflict pitted ethnic Tamils against the Sinhalese and led to the deaths of an estimated 80,000-100,000 people between 1982 and 2009.
It was under the stewardship of Mahinda Rajapaksa that the war was brought to an end. But allegations of torture, abductions, and extrajudicial killings continue to plague the former president’s conduct of the civil war’s final days.
No matter what the outcome of the political deadlock in parliament, hopes are strong that the scars of the nation’s civil war will remain firmly in the past.