Impeachment and US Interference
President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s impeachment of the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, Shirani Bandaranayake has shaken the foundations of an already fragile Sri Lankan government. Although the impeachment resulted with differences in opinion between the government and the judiciary, Sri Lanka’s nationalist group believes it to be a part of an international conspiracy.
Most recently, three US officials visited Sri Lanka. Their visit, the first after the impeachment, comes during a time of political instability where the government and the judiciary are caught in a tussle. US interest in Sri Lanka’s internal matters has raised concerns among nationalist groups who believe that the arrival of US representatives to monitor the impeachment process threatens the independence of Sri Lanka’s democracy and judiciary.
The leader of Sri Lanka’s opposition and the United National Party (UNP), Ranil Wickremasinghe is of the view that the impeachment has given life to internal rifts within the government. While the impeachment process, backed by a two-third majority, gave the government some sort of legitimacy, it has in essence lost all power. Moreover, some Sri Lankan ministers either voted against the impeachment or did not vote at all thus invalidating the government’s popular claim that the impeachment brought democracy into the country. Coalition partners of the government express contradicting views regarding the impeachment and consider it an action that threatens equality. The leader of the opposition has made it clear that the UNP must come into power to end Rajapaksa’s regime but even within the opposition, serious rifts exist. While the government is tackling the impeachment process, the opposition argues that the government’s suppression will end only when opposition parties show unity.