Minister Sabry pledges fullest assistance to President | Sunday Observer

Minister Sabry pledges fullest assistance to President

14 August, 2022

The Sunday Observer met Foreign Affairs Minister and President’s Counsel Ali Sabry at his Flower Road Chambers in Colombo on Thursday morning. The Minister exuded confidence in his ability to address the rising domestic political concerns regarding the country’s foreign policy.

Ali Sabry has been a go-to person for problem solving for those who call the shots in the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). Sabri entered mainstream politics in 2020 as an SLPP member. He campaigned for Gotabaya Rajapaksa during the 2019 Sri Lankan Presidential election. President Rajapaksa appointed him as the leader of the SLPP’s Muslim Federation.

He later appointed Sabri as Justice Minister in his Cabinet in August 2020. He was elected to Parliament on the National List. During the economic crisis, he was appointed to the temporary four-member Cabinet as Finance Minister. The SLPP-led Government entrusted Sabri with a number of pressing and all-encompassing tasks, including negotiating a fiscal bailout with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He went to Washington in April for IMF negotiations.

We questioned him about his confidence in drawing more attention to Sri Lanka’s current political and economic condition so that, as a result of his ministry’s activities, the country would have a better opportunity of receiving financial assistance from friendly nations and international organisations.

Minister Sabry: It truly is a matter of making the right decisions at the right time.

It is much more dependent on the country’s policy and what we offer as a country than on the organisations which we work with.

It is dependent on how we promote and implement fundamental human rights, as well as how we develop and sustain systems capable of fulfilling human rights.

The manner in which we implement our Constitutional framework for the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of effective democratic governance will be critical.

Based on our capacity to fulfilling these obligations and our ability to advance democratic Constitutional reforms, I am sure we can achieve political stability as well as the international attention and the support for the course of action for economic recovery.

Q: Are we sailing in the right direction to make any faster recovery under the current circumstances, given the concerns expressed by some NGOs and countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States about the government’s recent actions against those protesters near the presidential secretariat?

A. It is the task of the entire Government to work towards faster economic recovery. Given the circumstances and the ground reality, the best person to do it is probably President Wickremesinghe.

The current President is a political veteran with nearly five decades of experience.

He served as Prime Minister six times.

When Sri Lanka experienced an economic downturn in 2000, Wickremesinghe helped to restore the country’s economy.

I am confident that he will make those critical decisions under his leadership.

He will send the right signals to foreign nations and human rights organisations, and he will continue the discussion we started with the IMF in April.

The President is also the current Finance Minister.

Q: Would you assist him closely?

A. I will assist him in whatever capacity he requires. I will be more than glad to help his initiatives.

Q: Do you believe our foreign relations are more or less strained consequent to events during and following the impact that Aragalaya protests have created among other things?

A. Looking at how things have played out in Sri Lanka, it is clear that our institutions are strong.

We have democratic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom to protest to the point where a lawfully elected Government, an Executive President, and a Prime Minister were forced to resign before the end of their terms.

When you look at the big picture of what had happened, you can see that a very peaceful revolution had occurred in the country.

Even the deposed President had exercised restraint.

He never used violence.

If you looked closely, it was a positive story.

Many things had happened.

A little bad luck, people’s suffering as a result of the economic crisis, debt history, and the government’s bad policies all played a role in the situation.

But there is a silver lining in that cloud, the revolution took place peacefully.

Our democratic values are strong.

Now is the time for the international community to join forces with the Government to help Sri Lanka navigate through this difficult period.

Q: How challenging is it for Sri Lanka to participate in the upcoming Human Rights sessions in Geneva in September?

A. We had yet to complete much work in this area due to the crisis that existed from March to the present. We were in a state of survival.

Having said that, we are doing our best in this regard and are consulting with our friends. We’ll figure out how to present our case.

Q: What is the situation of the Chinese surveillance vessel that was scheduled to arrive at the Hambantota Port?

A. These type of military ships calling at our ports has been happening for a long time.

In the recent past, 48 Indian military ships have arrived, as well as 46 Japanese ships.

In the case of this particular ship, the Foreign Ministry granted permission on July 9.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was not present at that time.

Nonetheless, permission was granted on a technical level.

Following that, there were some concerns that this was not a typical ship and that extremely complex facilities were present.

As a result, the point was made that there were some far-reaching consequences for others.

So we asked for information and asked the Chinese ship to wait until we could assess that information.

They were supposed to arrive on the 11th, but did not show up.

We hope that our discussions with China and other regional and global powers will allow us to resolve the issue diplomatically and without further complications.

Q: Do you have any thoughts on how the 19th Amendment is coming along?

A. The 19th Amendment draft was produced on Wednesday. When that takes effect, the President’s power will be shared with the Prime Minister. It will be more like the period between 2015 and 2019. The President and Prime Minister will collaborate. That appears to be an ideal situation. That was desired by the country’s civil society and the public, including the protesters