In the aftermath of Sunday’s attack on Brazil’s three branches of government, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned the riot — and drew parallels to the upheaval in Sri Lanka over the summer, appearing to say the events should be understood in the same light, although government critics were quick to say they bore little in common.
“I am deeply concerned about the recent violence that erupted in #Brasilia,” he tweeted, “#Sri Lanka, not so long ago, also experienced similar attempts by groups to overthrow democratic structures through unconstitutional means. Such hostilities are condemned, and we stand in solidarity.”
Some Sri Lankans have expressed outrage at the comparison, arguing that the Sri Lanka rioters were driven by a desperate movement in opposition to deeply embedded political corruption and cronyism, rather than attempts to overturn an election over fraud accusations, without evidence.
“Ranil will do anything to undermine and discredit #aragalaya protests (just like others who compared the two),” tweeted Sri Lankan journalist Marlon Ariyasinghe, referring to the protest movement. “For Ranil all those who protested were fascists and terrorists. While he became Prez without the mandate of the people.
In July, protesters in Sri Lanka calling for then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation stormed his official residence and office in a dramatic escalation of public anger toward the country’s leaders.
Protesters also set fire to the home of Wickremesinghe, then the prime minister, in his sixth term in the role.
The Sri Lankan president pledged to resign on July 12 and fled the country the same day. Soon after, Sri Lanka’s Parliament elected Wickremesinghe as president. He remains in office.
Wickremesinghe’s deep connections to the Rajapaksa family and their political apparatus made him unpopular among many protesters and raised doubts about his ability to push through real reforms.
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