President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday said any unlawful protest movements will not be allowed, warning to deploy military and use emergency powers if necessary.
“If there are plans to initiate another Aragalaya to change the Government, I won’t give space for that. I will get the military and the forces and I will impose the State of Emergency,” he told the House yesterday.
President Wickremesinghe added that any attempts to create another Aragalaya without permits for protests will be prevented and the Police have been instructed to take action to prevent such protests.
“Anyone has the freedom to protest. But, go to the Police and take the permission and then walk on the roads, shout ‘I am a dictator or I am like Hitler’, but just take permission and don’t obstruct traffic,” he said. Wickremesinghe by highlighting how he moved for 17th, 19th and 21st amendments to the Constitutions and he is not a dictator but a democrat.
“Yet, if anyone thinks that they can engage in another struggle without obtaining a licence, stop it. I have instructed the police. If anyone tries to stage a protest to topple the Government, I will not allow it.
I will impose emergency law and deploy the military. There is no room for Dinh Diems in this country,” he stressed, referring to the controversial Vietnamese politician in the 1950-60s.
President Wickremesinghe claimed that the public no longer supports the Aragalaya and public protests, claiming that the Aragalaya was being hyped by the media.
“Although Aragalaya members protested and shouted every day, they have no one behind them now and some media also had a hand in the demonstrations,” he said.
He said a committee will be established to investigate the motive behind the protest and the perpetrators of violence during the protests.
President Wickremesinghe also accused the Frontline Socialist Party and its Leader Kumar Gunaratnam, a dual citizen, for being responsible for the attempt to capture Parliament on 13 July 2022.
“After doing so, they would have gone on to capture the Supreme Court,” he said while blaming the FSP for orchestrating the chaos.
“Had they succeeded in taking over the parliament, the government would become a puppet government. That is the reason why I asked the opposition not to be driven by such forces. The public was not with them,” the President said.
Noting that differences in opinion in the House should not lead to the deaths of MPs, such as that which took place during the recent unrest, whilst condemning the destruction of property of MPs during the unrest.
“These MPs did not fall from the sky. There are good and bad MPs and 196 of them were elected by the people. They need to be protected. On the 9 July, the President was chased away and they ransacked the President’s House. Then they occupied the President’s office,” said the President.
He said that his own residence was torched because he refused to step down and questioned why he should when he commanded a majority in Parliament.