Sri Lankan Religious Leaders Condemn New PM’s Appointment

Sri Lankan religious leaders, including Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, have criticized the president’s appointment of a new prime minister as unconstitutional and unethical.

Newsroom (16/05/2022 11:00 AM Gaudium Press) “The decision to appoint [Ranil] Wickremesinghe as the prime minister is in complete opposition to the will and aspirations of the people,” said Cardinal Ranjith after the Media announcement on May 12.

Wickremesinghe is a member of parliament but does not have a majority in the parliament, he said, pointing out that the chief prelates of Malwatta had sought the appointment of a non-party member for the interim administration.

Cardinal Ranjith said Wickremesinghe was defeated in the election by voters and had become a member of the national list.

The 73-year-old Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the 26th prime minister of the island nation for the sixth time. He was first appointed as PM in 1993-94 after the assassination of President Ranasinghe Premadasa.

The move came after Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as prime minister following violent attacks by pro-government supporters on peaceful protesters demanding the president, prime minister and government step down.

Buddhist monk Omalpe Sobhitha Thera said President Gatabaya Rajapaksa’s decision to appoint Wickremesinghe as prime minister was unconstitutional. 

“The interim government should be established under a person who has the people’s will. The appointment is a step taken to protect the Rajapaksas,” he said.

Ven. Sobhitha Thera said the appointment made disregarding the peaceful struggle by the people would only make the country worse. “Good governance reforms can never be expected from such a regime. Establish an all-party interim government,” he demanded.

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Anura Kumara Dissanayake, a Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader, said the appointment had no democratic value.

“The citizens of this country had called for the resignation of President Gatabaya Rajapaksa. People want recovery of the economy and the public funds that were looted,” he said.

Meanwhile, a court has issued a ban on the former prime minister and 15 parliamentarians leaving the country. Mahinda Rajapaksa is currently under protection at the Trincomalee naval base after angry mobs torched and destroyed his residence.

The president declared a state of emergency on May 6 after a strike and protests over Sri Lanka’s crippling external debt.

Under the emergency regulations, the president can authorize detentions, seize property possessions, and suspend any law.

Pope Francis on Wednesday appealed to the people of Sri Lanka to resort to peaceful protests as the island nations slipped to anarchy in the past days. In a statement released by the Vatican, the pontiff stated that Sri Lankans “need to make their voices heard in a peaceful way.” He further called on the Sri Lankan government to “listen to the voices of the protestors” grappling with the economic meltdown.

(Via UCAN)

Compiled by Raju Hasmukh

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