President appeals to int’l community for help | Sunday Observer

President appeals to int’l community for help

29 May, 2022

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said, “We have appointed a new Prime Minister and a Cabinet of Ministers with representation from multiple political parties, and we are fostering ongoing discussions in Parliament towards forming a national consensus on the way forward.”

The President was addressing the 27th International Conference on the Future of Asia (Nikkei) in Tokyo, Japan, via video call on Thursday. The President said that Sri Lanka is Asia’s oldest democracy. He said it is crucial that the solutions to our present national crisis are supported through our nation’s democratic framework.

President Rajapaksa said the virtual shutting down of the tourism industry and the sharp decline in inward remittances from expatriate workers due to Covid-19 pandemic in the past two years and increasing inflation due to other events combined with Sri Lanka’s high outstanding debt obligations caused a severe financial crisis.

He said in April, Sri Lanka announced a ‘Debt Standstill’ to restructure external public debt through negotiations with its creditors, while simultaneously approaching the International Monetary Fund for a suitable program.

The President said, “As we work through such solutions, we, however, urgently need the assistance of our friends in the international community to ensure that our immediate needs in terms of the import of essential medicines, food supplies, and fuel are met.

“Japan remains one of Sri Lanka’s key development partners, and we hope that the negotiations now underway regarding bridging funds from Japan will conclude soon, and support Sri Lanka as we try to stabilise our economy and our nation,” he said.

The President appealed to the other friends of Sri Lanka to explore the possibility of extending support and solidarity to our country at this very difficult time.

“Opp. leader not recognised”

UNP General Secretary Palitha Range Bandara said the people no longer recognise Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa as a leader. Participating in a Women’s Forum at the ‘Sirikotha’ UNP headquarters recently he said, “There is a severe crisis in the country and finding solutions to it has to be the priority. In a crisis situation like this we can identify real leaders. Opposition Leader Premadasa hesitated to take up the Prime Minister post when he was offered. He imposed conditions. However, UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe assumed the post without conditions and after discussing the measures to get the country out of the crisis situation.

“We have information that many in the Samagi Jana Balawegaya are not pleased with Premadasa’s leadership. People are gradually realising the truth. I must also underline the fact that our attempt is not to save President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Our attempt is to save the country and its people,” he added.

Diluted version

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said that the Government is planning to present a diluted version of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution. Addressing the media in Colombo recently, he said the Government should have taken the proposals of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and developed on it when presenting the 21st Amendment.

The Opposition Leader said that the Government should not hesitate to abolish the Executive Presidency and strengthen the 19th Amendment and ensure all democratic victories.

He said, “Without that, the people’s expectations will not be fulfilled adding that the Government should immediately stop its fraudulent activities and act in accordance with the wishes of the people.”

21st Amendment

UNP Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene called on all political party leaders to support the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, which seeks to curtail the powers of the President and to intervene to bring about a change in the country in line with the wishes of the people.

Wijewardene said Party Leaders had been given the opportunity to submit their views and suggestions on the proposed 21st Amendment and urged the Prime Minister to take advantage of the opportunity to include it in the draft resolution. The UNP Deputy Leader said that the increase in fuel prices was due to the deteriorating financial situation in the country and that the Prime Minister has already said that the Budget to be presented by the Government would provide some relief measures to economically distressed people.

“Attend to economic crisis first”

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam said that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe must resolve the economic crisis before bringing in a Constitutional amendment, adding that such amendments should not be drafted to target any specific individuals, to prevent them from entering Parliament or becoming President.

He said, “The SLPP cannot immediately say as to whether we are supporting the 21st Amendment to the Constitution Bill. We have to first properly analyse it and then understand the public’s ideas about it. We said that we will support Wickremesinghe to make a new Government to solve the country’s economic crisis. He was appointed to find solutions for the economic crisis but the economic crisis is still there.”

Kariyawasam said, “The people are still on the roads in queues and the Prime Minister is trying to bring a Constitutional amendment. First, solve the economic crisis and create an environment which allows a Parliamentarian to walk freely on the road and have the mental freedom to think. Then, we can discuss a Constitutional amendment.”

When questioned by the media as to whether the SLPP’s support for the 21st Amendment to the Constitution Bill would depend on the provisions which bar dual citizens from entering Parliament or holding public office. Responding to this, SLPP General Secretary Kariyawasam said that the Constitution of a country should not be designed targeting a specific individual.

He said, “As a country’s Constitution is its main document, it cannot be written with one person in mind. No country in the world makes Constitutions to stop someone from coming to Parliament or to chase them away or to prevent someone from becoming President. Constitutions are designed according to the needs of the country,” he said.

Futile to seek polite answers

Former Member of Parliament and Member of the Politburo of the JVP Sunil Handunnetti has said that those who retaliated violently towards SLPP supporters at Galle Face on May 9 should be protected.

Addressing a discussion convened by the National People’s Power in Matale on Sunday, Hadunetti had said it is futile to seek polite answers to the disgusting attacks that took place on May 9 morning. He told the meeting “It does not matter which party you belong to. We must protect those who responded in the afternoon to the dirty politically motivated attacks that took place on the morning of May 9.”

Surrounded by the old group

Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) Leader Gajendradrakumar Ponnambalam said that his party would give its full support to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe if he could explain the program being put forward to resolve the issue of Tamils in the country.

He told the media in Jaffna, that he had sent a letter to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in this regard. He said that almost every Government formed in the country had the support of one or more Tamil political parties during the election season, but after the formation of the Government in the South, the Tamil issues were not given much attention.

Ponnambalam said that whenever such assistance was given, the Tamil political parties did not inquire into the program being put forward to resolve the issues in the North and the East.

He said although Ranil Wickremesinghe has been appointed the Prime Minister of this country he is surrounded by the old group and there is a possibility that the Tamil people will be deceived again. The leader of the Tamil National People’s Front said that the party is ready to support the Government if the Prime Minister has a viable program to solve the Tamil people’s issues.


Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has held discussions with representatives from the agriculture sector to discuss the pending food shortage in the country.

During the discussions, the Premier had said that US$ 600 million is needed to ensure an adequate supply of fertiliser. The officials then had said that the fertiliser companies would be able to supply the fertiliser if the banks released the dollars.

Premier Wickremesinghe had also explained that he would be presenting a new Bill in Parliament, the Essential Agriculture Supplies Act, which would ensure uninterrupted supply and distribution of agricultural materials.

The Prime Minister had said that due to the war in Ukraine the world was facing a wheat and fertiliser shortage. He explained that as the shortages increase, Sri Lanka’s food supplies would worsen unless remedial action was taken immediately.

The Prime Minister had instructed the officials to identify underutilised land in the urban areas which could be cultivated. He said that the situation in the country was dire and required a combined effort if we were to overcome it.

Motion to remove MPs

At the Working Committee meeting of the SJB held recently, Party General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara had moved a motion to remove MPs Harin Fernando and Manusha Nanayakkara from the party. Then SJB Parliamentarian Dr. Rajitha Senaratne had questioned the progress of the disciplinary inquiry against SJB MP Diana Gamage.

Senaratne said, “Diana Gamage is not a Sri Lankan citizen and she is a British citizen. Therefore, a letter has to be received from the British High Commissioner and after that her MP post will be cancelled.

Perhaps, the letter may have already been sent. Did any of you check it?” Responding to MP Senaratne, Madduma Bandara said they have handed over the case to their lawyers.

Again Senaratne had said, “Everywhere in Parliament, Diana Gamage says that the SJB belongs to her. She says if she is expelled from the party, she will reveal the true facts of all top level secretaries and other office Bearers of the party. We don’t know whether there is any deal behind this,” Senaratne said.

Two-and-a-half years

The main Opposition SJB has discussed the 19th Amendment and the 21st Amendment to be moved by Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe. The SJB lawmakers had drawn attention to the issue of dissolving Parliament after four and half years under the 19th Amendment.

However, according to the 21st Amendment to be moved by Minister Rajapakshe the duration of dissolving Parliament has been reduced to two and a half years. Therefore, the SJB members have expressed their pleasure for that.

The SJB members are of the view that if this Constitutional amendment is passed in Parliament in February next year, it will be able to dissolve Parliament through the President. It is reported that the proposed 21st Amendment would give powers to the President to keep several ministries under his purview.

Speculation is rife that the SJB will form a Government under the premiership of Sajith Premadasa within the next four weeks.

Finance Minister

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed Finance Minister by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday. Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stability and National Policies on May 25.

The five-time Prime Minister was re-appointed to the job on May 12 following the political crisis that emerged as a result of the unprecedented economic crisis in the country. He replaced former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who resigned to make way for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s plan to appoint an all-party interim Government to handle the economic crisis.

Premier Wickremesinghe is expected to soon unveil a revised Budget outlining relief measures for the people who have been seriously affected due to the ongoing economic crisis.

The Prime Minister has accepted the Finance Ministry portfolio based on the consensus reached that all economic responsibilities should come under his supervision in a situation where the country has faced a severe economic crisis.

The Prime Minister had informed the President that if the Finance portfolio is not accepted by someone who can be trusted by the people, it should be vested with him. However, nobody had come forward to accept the portfolio while a few had put forward certain conditions which could not be fulfilled.

However, the Premier had not agreed to those conditions as those were not so relevant to the economy. As the continuous vacancy of the Finance portfolio would become an obstacle to the ongoing talks with the IMF, the Prime Minister had finally decided to accept it.


UNP Chairman Vajira Abeywardena had recently met a group of UNP organisers in the Galle district. During the meeting the organisers had also discussed astrologer Gnana Aakka of Anuradhapura.

The organisers had told Abeywardena that there is a talk in the society that predictions made by him are more accurate than Gnana Akka’s predictions. They had told Abeywardena, “Earlier you said that Ranil Wickremesinghe along with one parliamentary seat would become the Prime Minister and also become President later. Now one of these predictions has come true.”

The organisers had asked the UNP Chairman in lighter vein as to how he predicts those things. Then Abeywardena had replied he predicted those things due to his political maturity. He had asked the organisers to patiently wait and see as some of his other predictions were to come true.

Controversial statement

The SLFP had planned to have a special Central Committee meeting a couple of days ago to decide whether they would join the Interim Government or not.

However, the same morning, SLPP Parliamentarian Chamara Sampath Dasanayake resorted to making a controversial statement.

He said, “Whoever says anything, I will extend my support to the Government at this juncture.” It gave a lot of motivation to some of the SLFP frontliners who were willing to join the Government. If the SLFP had decided to support the Government while being in the Opposition, it was Chamara Sampath Dasanayake who fired the first salvo of joining the Government by paving the way for his seniors to follow suit.

However, Dasanayake had told some of his supporters “I first threw stones at the mango tree, it was Nimal Siripala and Mahinda Amaraweera who caught those mangoes.”