Although a seeming political opponent of both the SLPP and the JVP he is accused of working in secret coalition with both. The only force that would certainly be against him would be the FLSP who does not share the view by mainstream polity that the suave Wickremesinghe would be able to influence the IMF to save Sri Lanka economically as he is considered to have good relations with the Western nations.
The massive support of the public for the protests arose because of the acute shortage in fuel imports due to lack of payment facility. An IMF bailout will provide a semblance of economic normalcy to Sri Lanka which could lead to some political stability but the students unions which is a radical force in Sri Lanka’s social economic sphere seem to want direct control of the political realm.
After taking control of the president’s official residence they read out of a list of demands which emphatically included the resignation of Ranil Wickremesinghe.
“We do not want him as president of the country for even an hour. We insist that he resign. We will continue our protests until he does,” the head of the Inter University Students Federation, Wasantha Mudalige said.
Wickremesinghe was appointed acting president soon after Gotabaya Rajapaksa sent resignation letter on 14 July.
Meanwhile a possibility has emerged of Gotabaya’s return to the country because no foreign nation is granting him asylum may complicate matters. The Rajapaksas still retain loyalty among segments of the Sinhala Buddhist majority who blame foreign forces, ethnic minorities, NGOs and the elite English speaking liberal class of Colombo for uniting with the radical student representatives and trade unions to oust him. These elements say that it is a strategic plan by a combined set of forces acting out a conspiracy to destabilise Sri Lanka to allow powerful countries to do as they want with it. America and India is being chiefly blamed.
Several charismatic Buddhist monks such as Ven. Kirulapana Dhammawijaya Thero were among those who took to youtube to sound alarm on the threat faced by Sri Lanka. He claimed that the ousting of Gotabaya Rajapaksa would spell the doom of the Sinhala Buddhist identity of the nation and blamed the Christians, Tamils and Muslims of Sri Lanka for unleashing what he called a conspiracy. The Catholic Church has under heavy criticism for the role it played in the mass protests.
Archbishop Malcom Ranjith who has blamed Gotabaya Rajapaksa for orchestrating the 2019 Easter bomb attacks carried out by 9 militants has come under heavy critique for his stance. He is seen by some Sinhala nationalists for carrying out a ‘Vatican conspiracy’ against the ‘Sinhala Buddhist nation of Sri Lanka.’
Asela Gunaratne identifying himself as a spiritual yogi with a large following of primarily Sinhala Buddhists has repeatedly not minced words in blaming Cardinal Ranjit who he has termed as a ‘representative of the devil.’
Analysts point out that the reciprocal anger by Rajapaksa loyalists may impact Sri Lanka adversely in both the short and long term and may further complicate the ailing economy of the country.
It is largely expected that Ranil Wickremesinghe may be elected as president when parliament holds the vote on Wednesday. There are however several other contenders including UNP breakaway member Sajith Premadasa who heads the Samagi Jana Balawehaya (SJB). Premadasa is however believed to be inexperienced in handling the current economic crisis that needs immediate international cooperation. Others opine that Ranil would be equally incapable as he has led his party to abject defeat at the last elections and from May to now has not displayed any initiative to bring a tangible solution for Sri Lanka.