No More Street Cred
Protestors in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, demand the reinstatement of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his United National Party government, in October 2018.

• 200mm • f/5.6 • 1/400 • ISO200 • 600D & EF-S18-200/3.5-5.6 • polariser •

Days previously, President Maithripala Sirisena had prorogued Parliament and sacked the cabinet, calling on opposition MP Mahinda Rajapakse to form a new government. It took weeks of stubborn public protest before the country’s Supreme Court declared the president’s actions unconstitutional, forcing him to reverse them. Returned to office by placard rather than ballot, Ranil Wickremesinghe then lost the 2020 general elections in humiliating fashion (the UNP didn’t retain a single seat in Parliament; not even Wickremesinghe’s), and pitiably re-entered the legislature on the National List, handed a concessionary seat by his former opponent, Mahinda Rajapakse. Wickremesinghe now finds himself in the president’s office after months of public protest across the country forced the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapakse and his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, in mid-2022. A deeply unpopular president, lacking the legitimacy of a popular election, Wickremesinghe has found himself dogged by continuous opposition-led street protests, calling for fresh elections that the he seems determined to delay. In response, Wickremesinghe has used the police to crack down on protestors, and declared street protest illegitimate, ignoring the irony of owing his political position almost entirely to civic action on that very street.


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