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Thursday, July 25, 2024

“Cabinet dominated by Rajapaksa party; All 23 new Ministry secretaries are Sinhalese” – NPC calls for a general election

The people are undergoing unprecedented hardships at the current time. There is a disjuncture between what government leaders have been saying and what is materializing.  Assurances are being made that shiploads of fuel have been unloaded.  However, many service stations remain closed and those open have lines stretching for kilometers even overnight.  The small 15-member interim government drawn from all parties that was promised by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resolve the present crisis was not appointed.  Now the government appears to be heading towards a large sized one dominated by the ruling party with a full complement of ministers and state ministers.

It seems to be the case that the present composition of parliament will not permit good governance. This is plainly the belief of those who continue to peacefully protest against the government in person at various protest sites.  This is also the feeling of the many citizens who protest in their hearts and minds wherever they live and work.  It is distressing that 19 of 27 hours of parliament time was spent to discuss the burned houses of the politicians. If this continues no one will be able to prevent this country from going to a situation of severe anarchy which will lead to further political upheavals and injury to people not only by violence but by hunger as well.

The National Peace Council is dismayed at the appointment of 23 new secretaries to ministries by the president, all of whom belong to the ethnic majority community.  This insensitive action will not be conducive to promote a sense of belonging to the ethnic and religious minorities who constitute nearly one third of the population of the country.   We are also dismayed that public minded citizens who volunteered to give evidence regarding the violence used against peaceful protestors in front of the prime minister’s official residence and the presidential secretariat have had their passports impounded. This makes it seem as if the victim has become the accused.

The National Peace Council notes that the appointment of four cabinet spokespersons will not assure the people or the international community that a cohesive and stable government is in place.  In this context we are concerned that the World Bank has issued a statement that they will not be in a position to financially assist the country until an adequate macroeconomic policy framework is in place for which political stability and unity is a prerequisite.

The National Peace Council calls for elections to be held as soon as possible to enable the people to give a fresh mandate to those who will bring about change.  We believe a government with a new mandate can win the confidence of the Sri Lankan people and the international community to get the country out of the quagmire it is in.


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