Sri Lanka’s former president Chandrika Kumaratunga on Tuesday blamed the Rajapaksa family for the country’s current economic crisis, saying they and their friends thought they owned the nation and its assets and could get away with anything.
Kumaratunga, Sri Lanka’s first and only female president to date, said actions taken by the Rajapaksa regimes had led to a serious crisis situation in the country.
”Not only the Rajapaksas, but the government representatives around them, their friends, and associates are also to be blamed for the prevailing crisis,” the Daily Mirror, an online newspaper quoted the 77-year-old Kumaratunga as saying.
Her remarks came during the opening of the new office of the ‘Nawa Lanka Freedom Party’ in Battaramulla. The party is led by former minister and Kalutara District parliamentarian Kumara Welgama.
Kumaratunga said that the Rajapaksas and those who ruled the country after 2005 had thought they owned the country and its assets.
”They thought they could act in any manner they wanted and that they could get away with anything, even the dirty work they do,” she said.
If anyone raised objections against their action, they were killed, she alleged.
Kumaratunga served as the fifth President of Sri Lanka, from November 1994 to November 2005.
The Rajapaksa family has dominated Sri Lankan politics for over two decades. Mahinda Rajapaksa, the 76-year-old patriarch of the Rajapaksa family has been the country’s president and prime minister. Basil Rajapaksa, 71, was earlier finance minister. Chamal Rajapaksa, 79, was Minister of Irrigation and Speaker of the Parliament from 2010 to 2015. Namal Rajapaksa, the eldest son of Mahinda, was the Minister of Youth and Sports from 2020 to 2022.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is going through its worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948 which was triggered by a severe paucity of foreign exchange reserves.
A crippling shortage of foreign reserves has led to long queues for fuel, cooking gas, and other essentials while power cuts and soaring food prices have heaped misery on the people.
In mid-April, Sri Lanka declared its international debt default due to the forex crisis. The country owes USD 51 billion in foreign debt, of which USD 28 billion must be paid by 2027.
There have been street protests in Sri Lanka against the government since early April due to its mishandling of the economic crisis, leading to the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister and Gotabaya Rajapaksa as president.