In an article dated Colombo published on Thursday, The Guardian, the highly respected British newspaper, laid bare the inside story of Sri Lanka’s current predicament in a report titled “‘The Family Has Taken Power’: How a rival ruling dynasty drove Sri Lanka to ruin.”
Written by Hanah Ellis-Peterson, the report offers damning quotes from several former cabinet ministers who voted for the 20th Amendment strengthening the powers of President Gotabaya Rajapaksas but now publicly regret what they did. It also quotes media and advertising mogul Dilith Jayaweera, described as a “close friend of the president”.
Former Ministers cited in the report are Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, MM. Udaya Gammanipila and Vasudeva Nanayakkara. Charitha Herath, who has played important roles in the administration and now leads COPE, is also cited.
Jayaweera appears at the beginning of the story. Although he was not a friend of Basil Rajapaksa, he had invited the latter to dinner in his opulent office. While they ate, Dilith had asked a few questions. The report quotes him as saying, “Basil could not even answer my basic questions. He gave very ugly answers – that we would find money from here, from there, saying that everything would be fine to pay our debts. I saw then that he really did not understand economics at all; that it was done, dusted off, finished for us.
Godahewa has some interesting things to say as the following quote illustrates.
“As soon as Gotabaya took office, “the family took over; he only danced to their tune. Basil’s loyalists were given key cabinet portfolios and the family parachuted into PB Jayasundara, a bureaucrat who had a decades-long relationship with Mahinda and Basil, to become secretary and economic adviser to the president. Jayasundara had previously been banned from holding public office, but this was later reversed.
“Gotabaya had no political experience and knew nothing about economics; he was entirely dependent on PB Jayasundara to manage the economy,” said Charitha Herath, an SLPP MP who served on several parliamentary finance committees. The problem was that he gave very bad advice.
Here is what Gammanpila said: “’I have submitted 11 cabinet documents warning of the impending crisis. But whenever we brought up an economic issue, Basil felt that we were interfering with his work and he resented it. He said several times that everything was fine. But in my opinion, he doesn’t even have a basic understanding of economics. He also says, “Basil was the real power. Gotabaya didn’t know how bad things were and Mahinda was getting older and not healthier, he was just the figurehead. Everything was controlled by Basil. He further said, “It was a ticking time bomb that had been building up for several decades now. Everything was built with borrowed, unearned money.
Basil Rajapaksa refused to be interviewed for this article and his close associates refused to speak officially.
Vasudeva Nanayakkara says that the president has accepted any proposal that Basil submitted to him. Also that “”The relationship between Gotabaya and Mahinda has always been very cordial, very loving and fatherly. But towards the end, as Gotabaya told Mahinda in so many words to stand down, it was very, very bitter.
The Guardian report says those inside say Mahinda agreed to quit on three or four occasions but would then go back to those around him – including his wife and two sons who were in politics – to be persuaded that he didn’t need to leave. “It went on for about two weeks,” Godahewa said. Frustration and anger grew between the two brothers.
He adds that when news of the May 9 attacks reached Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was at his home in Colombo, he exploded in anger. The night before, having already had concerns about the gathering, he had instructed the police chief to be ready with officers, tear gas and water cannons.
“The president was shouting on the phone to the senior DIG, asking why the hell didn’t you stop these people from entering Galle Face,” said Godahewa, who has been locked up at Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s home for two days while everything is unfolding. passed. “He was screaming, ‘I’m the president, you do what I say, stop these people one way or another.
It further indicates that by the time the police responded, the spark had already been ignited with the worst violence in decades engulfing the country. brass that they would be held responsible if someone was killed.
“I saw how the president pleaded with the army chief to act saying, ‘Send troops, do something,'” said Godahewa, whose own house was burned down. “The president was so frustrated because everyone’s house was burning down and the army wasn’t stopping them.”
But, according to police and ministerial sources, the police chief refrained from taking action against the mobs attacking Galle Face, after being told by his superiors that it was a family matter between Mahinda and Gotabaya and that it was safer for the police not to be seen. to take part.