I was surprised that so much of the country was run by this one family. Is that unusual in Sri Lankan history?
It was strange even for Sri Lanka.
There are a number of families in politics. Rajapaksa was defense secretary when his brother was president from 2005 to 2015.
But this administration was an extremely brazen example. The Sri Lankan government increasingly looked like a family business. And it was run that way: a lot of secrecy, not much transparency, not many outsiders. The family tried to benefit from the policies the government was imposing.
Does the new government have the people’s trust?
Protesters are not happy with Ranil Wickremesinghe, the new president. They feel that his takeover reaffirms the Rajapaksas’ influence because he represents the establishment and because he appointed a friend of the Rajapaksa family as his prime minister.
What’s next for Sri Lanka?
In the short term, we probably will see continued turmoil. But people are invested in ensuring Sri Lanka doesn’t fall again into this situation where it’s teetering on autocracy, where there’s little transparency and where the will of the people is ignored. So it’s mostly a positive story.
More on Emily Schmall: She grew up in DeKalb, Ill., and once had a job detasseling corn. She decided to become a journalist in high school. She began her career at The Miami Herald in 2005 and joined the New Delhi bureau at The Times in 2020.