Sri Lanka’s political landscape took a dramatic turn on Monday as Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe was dismissed from his position, mere hours after leveling explosive accusations against President Ranil Wickremesinghe. Ranasinghe claimed that the President was attempting to assassinate him due to his efforts to combat corruption within the country’s cricket board.
The minister, undeterred by the potential consequences, boldly stated in parliament that Wickremesinghe should bear responsibility if any harm befell him. “I fear I could be killed over my work to clean up the cricket board,” Ranasinghe asserted, further escalating the confrontation with the President, who had been at odds with the minister over the governance of Sri Lanka Cricket.
Ranasinghe had recently ousted the elected cricket board, accusing its office-bearers of gross corruption—a charge vehemently denied by the implicated individuals, who are now challenging the decision in court.
The cricket board, considered the wealthiest sporting organization in the economically challenged island nation, faced suspension by the International Cricket Council (ICC) earlier this month. The ICC cited the board’s failure to prevent government interference, a violation of the organization’s rules.
President Wickremesinghe’s response to Ranasinghe’s allegations was limited to confirming the minister’s dismissal, leaving the situation fraught with tension. Ranasinghe, steadfast in his commitment to reform, rejected the President’s calls to reinstate the ousted cricket board.
Support for the sports minister came from the parliament itself, which passed a non-binding resolution three weeks ago, urging the cricket board to resign pending a forensic audit of its accounts. Wickremesinghe, in response to the ICC suspension, established a committee to investigate the matter, further deepening the political turmoil surrounding Sri Lanka Cricket.
Beyond the cricketing arena, Sri Lanka is grappling with economic challenges, defaulting on its $46 billion debt in April of the previous year. The country’s financial woes have led to a dire shortage of foreign exchange, making it difficult to finance essential imports and adversely affecting the lives of its 22 million citizens.