AMU AMU Static Asia Intelligence Original

Sri Lanka: A Bellwether of Global Government Instability

By William Tucker
Edge Contributor

After fleeing his Sri Lanka on July 12, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa formally resigned after his arrival in Singapore. Mass protests broke out in Sri Lanka in April over economic mismanagement, but with the recent unavailability of food, fuel, and medicine, the protests have now escalated with citizens occupying the Presidential palace and burning the Prime Minister’s residence.

With the President’s resignation, the Sri Lankan parliament can move ahead with swearing in the interim President or holding new elections within 30 days. While a change in government may please the citizens of Sri Lanka in the near term, it does nothing to alleviate the current high prices and shortages of basic goods.

Other Nations Are Also Experiencing Instability That Could Lead to a Change in Government

Sri Lanka is not alone in its economic turmoil; other fragile nations are struggling with the same issues. Unfortunately, there is no readily available solution to end the shortages. While Sri Lanka may be but one nation to see a change in government due to economic turmoil, other nations will likely follow.

Related link: 1 Year After Attacks, Sri Lankans Mark Easter At Home

Over the last week, 89 people were killed during a gang war in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse by mercenaries a year ago has led to an increase in gang activity and contributed to Haiti’s economic desolation. Like Sri Lanka, Haiti was already struggling to provide basic necessities to its residents, but the increase in gang fighting has prevented the government or international organizations from addressing Haiti’s many issues.

In Panama, protests have erupted over the high price of fuel, eventually forcing the Panamanian government to lower prices and implement a price cap. While this tactic may have satisfied some people, it does nothing to increase the amount of fuel Panama imports, meaning that the country might go from high fuel prices to acute shortages.

These economic issues are just a few problems spawned by the international pandemic response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. In some areas, there are horrible price shocks; in other countries, necessary products are simply unavailable.

The UN Warns That the People of 107 Countries Are at Risk

A few weeks ago, the U.N. stated that 1.6 billion people in 107 countries are at serious risk of food, fuel, and financial insecurity. This group represents a fifth of the global population and more than half of the U.N.’s members.

Although the current situation is still a crisis and not yet a catastrophe, humans need food and other necessities. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for hungry people to bring down a government.

The global situation could go from bad to worse rapidly. Not every nation going through a change in government experiences instability, but nations with weak institutions are certainly at higher risk of instability.

Earlier this year, Africa suffered a “coup contagion” that saw several nations’ governments fall to their military establishment. The coups were related to deteriorating security environments, but the fact that the coups were successful shows how weak governments do not always last long in the face of adversity.

Sri Lanka: The Continuing Struggle May Threaten Worldwide Governments

The struggles of securing food and fuel will certainly threaten some governments if more people do not act to alleviate sourcing constraints. Fortunately, diplomacy is helping, but international food, fuel, and finance issues cannot be easily resolved.

With most of the world a few months away from autumn and winter, the lack of food and fuel for heat does not bode well for the future. Sri Lanka may be the first government to fall due to these shortages, but it is unlikely to be the last. 

William Tucker serves as a senior security representative to a major government contractor where he acts as the Counterintelligence Officer, advises on counterterrorism issues, and prepares personnel for overseas travel. His additional duties include advising his superiors in matters concerning emergency management and business continuity planning.

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