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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Sri Lanka: Opposition parties urge restraint from security forces

Image: Military in Colombo 13.07.22.

  • Sajith tells security forces to not be ‘weapons of State terror’
  • AKD alleges move to utilise PTA  
  • Kumar Gunaratnam urges all to respect the quality of the ‘aragalaya’

Opposition parties yesterday (13) urged the Defence Forces to exercise restraint when encountering unarmed protestors while demanding that Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe listen to the demands of the people.

“This Government is using oppression to rule the people. Unarmed members of the public are being oppressed through weapons. They are spreading lies to oppress this country and oppress unarmed groups of people and to attack them. We condemn these actions. This Government will be defeated through the people’s power. Did President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resign or temporarily take a rest? From Wickremesinghe we ask, are you not ready to listen to the demands of the people?” questioned Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa in a statement issued in this regard.

He requested the Defence Forces to think about the country instead of just two individuals, and to not be weapons of State terrorism.

In a similar statement, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)-led National People’s Power (NPP) Leader MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that all political parties and the public should act very intelligently at this critical juncture in order to prevent a huge tragedy from occurring in the country.

He said yesterday: “These are important hours in the country at the moment. The Speaker of Parliament announced that the President will resign, but he has still not resigned. Instead, the Premier has been appointed Acting President. Now the Government and Wickremesinghe are trying to use that power oppressively and undemocratically. That is why an emergency and curfew was declared and we are hearing reports that they are trying to implement the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) as well,” he said. “If Wickremesinghe thinks that there are solutions to this through oppression, it will end in tragedy. We urge them to listen to the people and their demands and to not act stubbornly.”

Calling the people’s struggle a “just one”, Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) Leader Kumar Gunaratnam too requested the Defence Forces to accept the people’s power and to treat it fairly “instead of listening to the orders of one man who does not have any mandate”. “We also request the people to not fall into the trap of politicians like on 9 May. By respecting the quality of the struggle and protecting its limits, let us continue it forward. This Government must resign for an interim all-party Government for stability,” he stressed.

In a statement issued in this regard, SJB Member Hirunika Premachandra also stressed that the country should prevent a “bloodbath” from happening, calling for restraint from the Defence Forces and for the protestors to not engage in violence. “Wickremesinghe must step down immediately. Prof. Maithree Wickremesinghe (Ranil Wickremesinghe’s spouse), please tell your husband to stop this clinging onto power,” she said.

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader and SJB MP Rauff Hakeem tweeted that Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe are “determined to further disgrace themselves by this subterfuge of resorting to Article 37(1) of the Constitution”.

Following a massive islandwide protest on 9 July, demanding the resignation of President Rajapaksa, he informed that he would resign yesterday. Speculation about him fleeing the country has been ripe since then and was proven true during the early hours of last morning, when he fled to the Maldives on a Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) helicopter. It was announced on Monday (11) that after Rajapaksa resigns, the Parliament will select the new President through a vote, according to the Constitution, on 20 July.

Wickremesinghe had announced that he would resign from his post of the Premier only to allow an interim Government to take over, defying the demands of many protestors, who called for a simultaneous resignation from him as well. If Wickremesinghe had vacated office with Rajapaksa, the Speaker would have Constitutionally become the President until the Parliament elects another.

(The Morning)

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