THE Sri Lankan workers and youth have shown the way forward to the workers of the world, and to the workers of the UK in particular, about how to deal with a ruling class that is intent on pushing the whole weight of the worldwide economic crisis onto the backs of the working class of the world, men, women and children.
The message from the struggle of the Sri Lankan workers to the workers of the world is don’t put up with massive inflation, don’t put up with the bosses and bankers unloading the full weight of the world crisis of capitalism onto your backs – the bosses have feet of clay – the working class and its youth are the strongest force in society, stronger than even the military and the police.
The workers produce the wealth and they have the power and the courage to stand up to the forces of the capitalist state to remove the ruling class and to lay the basis for going forward to socialism.
The Sri Lankan workers and youth have been subjected to appalling police and military violence, but they stood fast, mobilised in massive numbers, and marched on Colombo. The forces of the capitalist state were mesmerised by the courage of the masses of workers and youth and stood and watched as the masses occupied the residence of the President and then burnt down the house of the Prime Minister.
The US ruling class is now very alarmed at these revolutionary developments and has sent a special message to the Sri Lankan ruling class that they must resolve the Sri Lankan economic meltdown.
This, the Sri Lankan ruling class are incapable of doing.
A tense calm returned to the streets of Sri Lanka’s commercial capital Colombo on Sunday, with opposition political parties planning to meet to agree on a new government.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he will leave office once a new government is in place, and hours later the parliament Speaker said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will step down Wednesday.
Pressure on both men had grown as the economic meltdown set off acute shortages of essential items, leaving people struggling to obtain food, fuel and other necessities.
If both President and Prime Minister resign, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena will take over as temporary President, according to the constitution.
The island of 22 million people is struggling with its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, amid a severe foreign exchange shortage that has limited essential imports of fuel, food and medicine.
Soaring inflation, at a record 54.6% in June and expected to hit 70% in the coming months, has heaped hardship on the population.
The country’s leaders are seeking a $3 billion bail-out from the US-dominated International Monetary Fund and a restructuring of some foreign debt, but its desperate bid has gone unanswered.
Rajapaksa will step down on 13th July. PM Wickremesinghe has agreed to resign. The Speaker of parliament said the President decided to step down ‘to ensure a peaceful hand-over of power’ and called on the public to ‘respect the law’. The announcement triggered an eruption of celebratory fireworks in the city.
Political leaders are due to hold further meetings to discuss a smooth transition of power while Sri Lanka’s military has appealed to people to cooperate with the security forces to maintain calm.
One protester, Fiona Sirmana, who was demonstrating at the President’s house, said it was time ‘to get rid of the President and the Prime Minister and to have a new era for Sri Lanka. I feel very, very sad that they didn’t go earlier because had they gone earlier there wouldn’t have been any destruction,’ she told journalists.
Sri Lanka is suffering rampant inflation and is struggling to import food, fuel and medicine amid the country’s worst economic crisis in 70 years. It has run out of foreign currency and has had to impose a ban on sales of petrol and diesel for private vehicles, leading to days-long queues for fuel.
The extraordinary events of Saturday are the culmination of months of mainly peaceful protests in Sri Lanka. Huge crowds converged on the official residence of President Rajapaksa, chanting slogans and waving the national flag before breaking through the barricades and police lines to enter the property.
People were roaming through the house and swimming in the president’s pool, while others emptied out a chest of drawers, picked through the President’s belongings and used his luxurious bathroom. The contrast between the luxury of the palace and the months of hardship endured by the country’s 22 million people was not lost on the Sri Lankan people.
The Sri Lankan trade unions must now take political action and set up local Councils of Action or Soviets to run Sri Lanka, and establish a new Soviet government.
The workers of the UK must be inspired by the example of the Sri Lankan workers to take action to bring down the Tories and then go forward to a workers government.