Sri Lanka Crisis Deepens

  • Sri Lanka’s parliament passed a no-confidence motion against newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on 7 November, presenting a standoff with the opposition and throwing the country deeper into turmoil.
  • Deputies from Rajapaksa’s party rejected the voice vote as illegal, saying it wasn’t scheduled and that the pro-China former strongman would remain in office.
  • It wasn’t immediately clear what President Maithripala Sirisena, who triggered the crisis by firing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and naming Rajapaksa to the job last month, would do now.
  • Sirisena dissolved parliament last week and ordered elections as a way to break the deadlock but the Supreme Court ordered a suspension of that decree on Tuesday until it had heard petitions challenging the decree as unconstitutional.
  • Wickremesinghe, who had refused to vacate the prime minister’s residence, said he intended to discharge his official responsibilities now that he had proved his majority in parliament.
  • Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said the no-confidence vote against Rajapaksa was supported by 122 members of the 225-member house.

Implications for India:

  • Sri Lanka is being one of the crucial neighbours in our country and its stability is foremost important.
  • Article 51A of our constitution talks about Promotion of international peace and security The State shall endeavour to
  • promote international peace and security;
  • maintain just and honourable relations between nations;
  • foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organised peoples with one another; and encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration.
  • To counter Chinese influence i.e., String of pearls which China is building around to keep India in check.

India Sri Lanka Relations:

  • The relationship between India and Sri Lanka is more than 2,500 years old. Both countries have a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious and linguistic interaction. In recent years, the relationship has been marked by close contacts at all levels.
  • Trade and investment have grown and there is cooperation in the fields of development, education, culture and defence. Both countries share a broad understanding on major issues of international interest.
  • In recent years, significant progress in implementation of developmental assistance projects for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and disadvantaged sections of the population in Sri Lanka has helped further cement the bonds of friendship between the two countries.
  • The nearly three-decade long armed conflict between Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE came to an end in May 2009. During the course of the conflict, India supported the right of the Government of Sri Lanka to act against terrorist forces.
  • At the same time, it conveyed its deep concern at the plight of the mostly Tamil civilian population, emphasizing that their rights and welfare should not get enmeshed in hostilities against the LTTE.
  • The need for national reconciliation through a political settlement of the ethnic issue has been reiterated by India at the highest levels.
  • India’s consistent position is in favour of a negotiated political settlement, which is acceptable to all communities within the framework of a united Sri Lanka and which is consistent with democracy, pluralism and respect for human rights.

Political Relations:

  • President Maithripala Sirisena was elected as the new President of Sri Lanka in the presidential election held on 8 January, 2015. He succeeded former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
  • Following parliamentary elections on 17 August 2015, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe was reappointed as the Prime Minister by President Sirisena on 21 August 2015.
  • Political relations between the two countries have been marked by high-level exchanges of visits at regular intervals. President Sirisena visited India on a four-day visit starting 15 February 2015. President Sirisena visited India on 13-14 May 2016 on a working visit. During the visit, he visited New Delhi, Ujjain and Sanchi.
  • President Sirisena travelled to India on 19-21 August 2016 on a private visit. President Sirisena travelled to India on 15-17 October 2016 to attend the BRICSBIMSTEC Outreach Summit.
  • President Sirisena traveled to India on 6-7 November 2016 to attend Seventh Session of the Conference of Parties (COP7) to World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in New Delhi. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited India in September 2015, his first overseas visit after being appointed as Prime Minister.
  • President Sirisena and Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi also met on the margins of 70th session of UNGA in New York in September 2015 and at the COP21 meeting in Paris in November 2015.
  • Prime Minister Wickremesinghe travelled to India on 4-6 October 2016 for the India Economic Summit. He again paid a working visit to India from 25-29 April, 2017 and an MOU on cooperation in economic projects was signed during the visit.
  • There are regular Ministerial visits from Sri Lanka to India taken place. Few are listed below; Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera visited New Delhi in January 2015 on his first overseas official visit.
  • On 18 June 2016 Prime Minister and President Maithripala Sirisena, through video conferencing from New Delhi, jointly inaugurated the newly renovated Duraiappah Stadium in Jaffna.
  • A mega yoga event at Duraiappah Stadium launched the week long yoga celebrations for 2016 in Sri Lanka. The event was a performance of ‘Surya Namaskar’ by almost 11000 school children. On 28 July, Prime Minister delivered a video message at a ceremony to launch Emergency Ambulance Service in Colombo, set up with Indian financial assistance.
  • Prime Minister Wickremesinghe launched the services in Colombo. Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Shri N. Chandrababu Naidu participated in the Second Anniversary celebrations of the President of Sri Lanka during 7-8 January 2017.
  • On 05 May 2017, President Sirisena joined other leaders from SAARC countries through the video conferencing after the launch of SAARC satellite, which is gifted by India to SAARC countries.

Fishermen issue:

  • Given the proximity of the territorial waters of both countries, especially in the Palk Straits and the Gulf of Mannar, incidents of straying of fishermen are common. Both countries have agreed on certain practical arrangements to deal with the issue of bona fide fishermen of either side crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line.
  • Through these arrangements, it has been possible to deal with the issue of detention of fishermen in a humane manner. India and Sri Lanka have agreed to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries between the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of India and Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development of Sri Lanka as the mechanism to help find a permanent solution to the fishermen issue and first meeting took place in December 2016 in New Delhi and second meeting in Colombo on April 07, 2017.
  • Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Shri Radha Mohan Singh visited Colombo on 2 January 2017 to participate in the Ministerial Meeting on Fishermen issue.
  • The second meeting of the JWG was held during April 2017 in Colombo. The next round of Ministerial-level talks and JWG meetings were held during October 2017 at New Delhi.
Share Socially