Amid violence, SL President says will appoint new PM, government
Colombo, May 12, 2022
In an effort to end the ongoing political crisis, Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday announced that a new government with a new Prime Minister, who can command the majority in the Parliament, would be appointed this week.
Addressing the nation, President Rajapaksa also agreed to bring constitutional changes in line with the 19th Amendment, which was introduced by the last government and seeks that the Parliament be given more powers while curtailing executive (presidential) powers.
He also assured that as demanded by various sections of the society, he would make ways to abolish the Presidential system.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe met the President on Wednesday and there was speculation that he was to be appointed as the new PM.
In his speech, President Rajapaksa strongly condemned Monday's violence, which left nine people, including an MP, dead, 300 injured and over 100 houses and offices of politicians torched. He assured the people that severe punishment would be imposed on those responsible for the violence and that he is working with the other parties to ensure security of all people and political stability.
As it goes through its worst-ever economic crisis, Sri Lanka on Monday saw violent attacks carried out by pro-government elements on protestors who had been demanding the President and PM Mahinda Rajapksa should resign.
Subsequently, nearly 2,000 supporters of Mahinda Rajapaksa who gathered at his official resident, Temple Trees, insisted that he should not step down and later armed with poles and iron bars, marched towards two protest sites near his residence and attacked the protestors.
Condemning the attacks, people around the country took to the streets and counter-attacked the pro-government group and later, the buses, and other vehicles they used to come to Colombo were damaged and burnt.
Arson attacks were carried out on more than 100 buildings including the houses of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his younger brother and former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa and elder brother and former minister Chamal Rajapaksa, other ruling party ministers, MPs and local politicians.
In wake of the violence, Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as Prime Minister and later took refuge at a naval base on the Eastern coast.
Amidst the public anger, the ruling party politicians have gone into hiding and the Speaker on Wednesday urged the Inspector General of Police to ensure security of MPs.
Following Monday's violence, an island-wide curfew was imposed till Thursday morning and it was later announced the curfew would resume from 2 p.m. on the same day.
On Tuesday, the military was called in and orders were given to shoot all those looting and carrying out arson attacks. On Wednesday, armoured vehicles were seen all around Colombo with a heavy military presence and political parties had complained that the government was planning a military dictatorship.
The US expressed concern over the deployment of the military and urged the government to work quickly to ensure public safety and implement solutions to achieve long-term economic and political stability in the country.
Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission in Colombo strongly denied certain media reports that some politicians with their families have fled to India for safety.