Political Crisis Current Affairs - 2019

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Venezuela Crisis

The Venezuela crisis is deepening with passing time. European Union, Australia, US, New Zealand have recognised Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader as the president.

Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader, has said that President Nicolás Maduro is illegitimate and has asserted himself as Venezuela’s interim president.

What’s the crisis?

Both Juan Guaidó and Nicolás Maduro have debatable claims to legitimacy. As a result, the whole issue has become messy.

Venezuela has been grappling with crisis spiral for years with growing political discontent further fuelled by skyrocketing hyperinflation, power cuts and shortages of food and medicine. The recent crisis haunting Venezuela is Who is the President?

How did the Presidential Crisis begin?

On 23rd January the leader of the legislature, Juan Guaidó, declared himself acting president and said he would assume the powers of the executive branch from there onwards. This was a challenge to President Nicolás Maduro, who had been sworn into a second six-year term in office just two weeks previously. President Maduro condemned this as a ploy by the US to oust him.

Nicolás Maduro was first elected as President with a thin margin of 1.6 percentage votes in April 2013 after the death of his predecessor, Hugo Chávez. Nicolás Maduro was re-elected to the office of president for a second six-year term in highly controversial elections in May 2018, which most opposition parties boycotted.

After being re-elected Nicolás Maduro announced that announced he would serve out his remaining first term and only then be sworn in for a second term.

The National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó argues that because the election was not fair. Articles 233 and 333 of Venezuela’s constitution empower the head of the National Assembly takes over as acting president under such circumstances. Juan Guaidó has staked the claim to be the acting president, as he was the head of the legislature.

Sri Lankan PM leaves Presidents Party, joins newly-formed Sri Lanka People’s Party

Newly appointed Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa ended his five-decade-long association with Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and joined newly-formed Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP). SLFP was founded by his father Don Alwin Rajapaksa in 1951. Rajapaksa’s joining SLPP signals that he will contest snap polls, under his own party banner and not that of President Maithripala Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). SLPP was formed in 2017 by Rajapaksa’s supporters as platform for his re-entry into politics. In February 2018 local council elections SLPP won two-third of total 340 seats.

Sri Lankan Political and Constitutional Crisis

In January 2015 Presidential election, then President Mahinda Rajapaksa (was in office for decade from 2005) was unexpectedly defeated by his then deputy Sirisena with support from Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP).  But, power-sharing arrangement between President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe in later times became increasingly uncertain on several policy matters, mainly on economy and security.

Further rift had developed between them over policy towards China and India, with Wickremesinghe favouring Indian investment as counter to Chinese inroads in Sri Lankan infrastructure projects and Sirisena’s intention to contest 2020 presidential election under Mr Wickremesinghe’s party.

In October 2018 Sirisena had abruptly removed Wickremesinghe and replaced with Rajapaksa, a pro-China strongman as new Prime Minister. This move had plunged Sri Lanka into political and constitutional crisis. Sirisena had suspended parliamentary proceedings and later dissolved it, after it became evident that there is not enough support in House to prove Rajapaksa’s premiership.