Govt willing to listen to public protests - Prime Minister | Sunday Observer

Govt willing to listen to public protests - Prime Minister

30 July, 2022

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told Parliament that the new Government is willing to listen to democratic public protests, adding that it will listen to the voice of the non-violent public as the Government also upholds the same values. However, the Premier said the Government is not in any way ready to accept any act of terrorism. He said Parliamentarians should not support terrorism in any nature that jeopardises democracy.

In Parliament on Wednesday, Premier Gunawardena said that there could be different political ideologies but the House has the potential to work in unison to resolve the crisis the country is going through. Thus, the Prime Minister invited all political parties to come forward to support the Government to carry out its development plans.

The Prime Minister also said that Sri Lanka is expecting support from foreign countries and foreign agencies in the task of rejuvenating the economy. The Government is taking measures to establish the executive committee system that would allow all MPs to be involved in the country’s economic and political activities.

He said the President has also decided to present and discuss a draft pertaining to this. Premier Gunawardena said, “There may be different political opinions, but we are bound to take the country forward by protecting the democratic parliamentary system, even if we have different political opinions. As the Prime Minister, I like to reiterate that it is an opportunity for all of us to work hand in hand within the Sri Lankan Constitution and parliamentary democracy.”

He said the Parliament has put forward many ideas for the task of changing the political mechanism in the country and the Government has started the process to reach some consensus followed by a Constitutional amendment.

SJB Parliamentarian Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said the country’s law should be to protect the rights of its people and the emergency law should be for that purpose. However, he said that the imposition of the Emergency law by the Government is in total contradiction of the purpose. “We see the imposition of the Emergency law as a means to suppress the voice of the people and protect the rulers.”

Speaking during the Emergency debate in Parliament on Wednesday, Field Marshal Fonseka said that he and his party will join in the final battle to remove corrupt rulers from power on August 9.

He said, “If the President thinks he can suppress any uprising the way they did in 1988/89, he is mistaken. The world and the protesters are much more developed now. The President should know that over 95 percent of the Security Forces and the Police are with the protesting masses. The Security Forces and the Police should not carry out orders to attack protesting youth. Don’t forget that your sons, daughters and family members are among them.”

He said that it is evident that the rulers are attempting to suppress the masses, adding that it is wrong to brand those who come onto the streets as a result of the difficulties they have to face, as rioters.

System change

President Ranil Wickremesinghe said the demands of the youth who were engaged in the struggle were to change the system of the country and that he too accepted it.

The President was addressing the staff of the UNP headquarters, Sirikotha on Wednesday evening. The President said that everyone is allowed to engage in peaceful protests according to the law of the land.

“Those who are engaged in the struggle also have the same right and have different talents,” he said.

President Wickremesinghe said that he saw young people with a multitude of talents also participating in the struggle. President Wickremesinghe said that he assumed the Presidency at a time when the country is in a precarious situation. The President said that many steps have been taken to move the country forward while overcoming the economic challenges.

UNP General Secretary Palitha Range Bandara, National Organiser Sagala Rathnayake, Chief Executive Officer of the Party Shamal Senarath received the President on arrival at Sirikotha.

Vajira Abeywardena takes oaths

UNP Chairman Vajira Abeywardena took oaths before Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Wednesday. Abeywardena was appointed as an MP to fill the vacancy created after Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected as the President. Abeywardena was elected to the Parliament for the first time from the Galle district representing the United National Party at the 1994 election. From thereon, until 2010, Abeywardana had been elected to Parliament at every election from Galle district representing the United National Party. In the 2015 parliamentary elections he was elected to Parliament representing the Galle district.

Protest site

Chief Government Whip Minister Prasanna Ranatunga told Parliament on Wednesday that the protestors should be removed from the Galle Face protest site and a new site should be allocated near the Viharamahadevi Park. As the Urban Development Minister, he said the allocated protest site adjoining the Presidential Secretariat is in no way a suitable site, adding that this had been clearly evident during the recent past.

Hence, he said that this protest site should be removed from that location and an alternative location should be allocated. The Minister said “The Viharamahadevi Park would be an ideal location as it is also close to the Opposition Leader’s Office and he can maintain close ties with them.” Hence, the Minister said that the protest site should be removed to another location from Galle Face as it is an economic centre.

US Ambassador calls on President

US Ambassador in Colombo Julie Chung called on President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat on Wednesday. After offering her congratulations to the President, the Ambassador engaged in a friendly conversation with him. During the meeting, it was discussed advancing the existing relations between Sri Lanka and the United States through a strong approach and the Ambassador assured that she would provide support for the future initiatives of the new Government.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador Julie Chung in a tweet said that both she and the new President discussed how both countries can work together to navigate towards a brighter future for all.


Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament on Wednesday if he jumps from side-to-side like a political toad, he will have to pay for it before the People’s Court. The Opposition Leader made this comment while joining the debate on the adoption of the Emergency Law in Parliament. Premadasa told Parliament that the Samagi Jana Balawegaya is not ready to work with the Government.

He said that whoever advised the President to initiate the attacks on the peaceful protesters last week was indeed an “Idiot”. “I don’t know who the Idiot was that advised the President to issue orders to attack the peaceful protestors that night. Whoever advised him to do so are complete idiots and fools. The SJB will not let the Government make such rash decisions while we remain as the main Opposition.

“The protesters had said they would leave the premises the following day, but why did the President decide to attack the protesters? I can’t believe that a person such as Ranil Wickremesinghe, with so much experience in life, could make such stupid decisions,” he said.

The Opposition Leader said that today the Government is talking about ‘Emergency’, but the people are undergoing an emergency of living without essential goods and the Government has an emergency to spread state terrorism. The Opposition Leader said the President’s and the Prime Minister’s dreams have come true, but the dreams of 22 million people have been crushed.

SLPP Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa said at present there is a stable Government in the country. Speaking during the Emergency debate in Parliament, he said that his Party voted in favour of the proclamation of Emergency regulations, because they wanted to prevent the state being destroyed. Weerawansa said that although they had decided to back the Presidential bid of MP Dullas Alahapperuma, Ranil Wickremesinghe had won the election fairly and whether anyone likes it or not, they have to accept the current Government that was elected legitimately.

He said that it was understandable that the youth came onto the streets to protest due to the pressure they were under during the previous regime and wanted former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa ousted.

He said, “They came onto the streets demanding ‘Gota Go Home’. Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa eventually resigned and we thought that once he steps down the protests would end. There was public support for the struggle when there were no evident solutions to the issues facing the people. That is why they supported the ‘Gota Go Home’ struggle.

“We thought once Gota went home that would end. Now the Opposition says that there is another protest planned for August 9 to chase another leader and MP Fonseka asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena to be ready to become President. This is utter nonsense and a real comedy,” he said.

MP Weerawansa said that they are demanding for Gota to go home, next they want Ranil to go home and that might be followed by Dinesh go home. “Wouldn’t it be easier if they came out openly and told us who they wanted in power?”

All-Party Government

SJB Parliamentarian Kumara Welgama told Parliament that the Opposition should team up to form an All-Party Government and support incumbent President Ranil Wickremesinghe. He said that the country has the right leader now.

“Dullas is a close friend of mine, but he would have been a puppet of the terrorists who are trying to take over power, if he had been elected President on July 20. One should elect a leader who could confront the present situation as the President,” he said.

He said that these protest leaders are hoodwinking the Opposition by promising to make the Opposition Leader the leader of the country. But he warned that they have no intention of giving him any power. He said that even during President Ranasinghe Premadasa’s rule, he had trusted ‘Babu’ but eventually he is the one who had placed the bomb that killed Premadasa.

Hence, he urged the Opposition Leader not to be fooled by these protest leaders as they are trying to use him to get power into their hands. He said “I would also like to tell the Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa not to get misled by the terrorist leaders whom he is in dialogue with. They promise you power, but they will never give you power.”

SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma said the eighth Executive President would have been the last Executive President of the country had I been elected by the House as the President instead of Ranil Wickremesinghe. At a press conference in Colombo on Thursday, Alahapperuma said that he and his group raised their voices for an All-Party Government. He said that they are definitely not interested in a Government joining up for the sake of it.

Alahapperuma stressed the importance of building an All-Party Government to solve the current crisis. He also said that his team will not hesitate to unseat the Opposition if necessary. Alahapperuma was the main opponent in the election of President against Wickremesinghe.

GR to return soon

Cabinet Spokesman Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena said former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was ousted from power, will soon return to Sri Lanka. He said he does not believe the former President fled the country and is in hiding, since he did travel abroad through the proper official channels. Dr. Gunawardena told the weekly Cabinet press briefing that he is aware that former President Rajapaksa will return to Sri Lanka and that if there is any threat against him, the responsible State officers in Sri Lanka will take sufficient steps to prevent the threats. When asked if he knew when former President Rajapaksa would arrive in Sri Lanka, he said he had not been informed of any arrival date.

General Election

TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran said that a General Election should be held immediately and a new Government should be set up as soon as possible. He said a majority of people in the country are not satisfied about the manner in which a new President was appointed. Speaking at a recent press conference held at the Ilankai Tamil Arusu Kachchi party office in Jaffna, Sumanthiran said that there is a lot of dissatisfaction among the people about a person from a Party holding one Parliamentary Seat becoming the President. He said that it is very important to hold a General election and form a new Government before the people’s struggles escalate further.

Emergency approved

The Emergency regulations declared by President Ranil Wickremesinghe were approved in Parliament by a majority of 57 votes on Wednesday. One hundred twenty MPs voted for, while 63 voted against. The division was called by the Opposition. The main Opposition SJB, TNA and JVP voted against while nearly four Government lawmakers including Dullas Alahapperuma, Dilan Perera, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa and Wasantha Yapabandara also voted against.

Rule of law

SLPP General Secretary MP Sagara Kariyawasam on Thursday said that the rule of law must be enforced in the country. He was responding to the statement by former Foreign Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris who had said that the enforcement of Emergency regulations is against the SLPP’s fundamental principles.

Kariyawasam said, “The Party has nothing to do with the enforcement of Emergency regulations. The violent rioters tried to deprive the country of democratic space.” He said that he is confident that the new President will uphold the rule of law. Kariyawasam said that the SLPP has made a decision to support a candidate who is capable of forming an All-Party Government. “Certain factions in the party who demanded President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to vacate the position and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to step down from his position were trying to launch a conspiracy,” he said. However, Kariyawasam hoped that these miscreants would unite with the Party in the future.