Sri Lanka: economic and political fragility

Sri Lankan democracy has recently been burdened by a presidential coup. President Sirisena has overstepped his constitutional limits to sack the sitting Prime Minister and unilaterally appoint a new one. Instead of seeking parliament’s approval, he dissolved the House and announced snap elections for January 2019.During his preceding tenure, he signed many substantial loan agreements with China amounting to over $15 billion. This included the $1.3 billion Hambantota port that was subsequently lost to a Chinese debt trap. The port was under-utilised and incurred major losses, the government was unable to repay loans. A Chinese state-controlled company then took over majority interest in 2017 in exchange for a debt write-off. In addition to the port, Sri Lanka also gave up 15,000 acres of land around it on a 99 year lease to China. These unsustainable agreements have sparked fears of erosion of sovereignty but should Rajapaksha hold onto the country’s leadership, it is highly likely that China’s presence in the island nation will continue. This further raises geopolitical risks for the region..........................

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