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Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and a Buddhist monk call the presidential decision unconstitutional and unethical
Sri Lanka’s new prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (left) at the swearing-in ceremony held at the President’s Palace in Colombo on May 12. (Photo: AFP)
Sri Lankan religious leaders including Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith have criticized the president’s appointment of a new prime minister as unconstitutional and unethical.
“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 announcement was made through the media 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 from 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 who had been demanding the president, prime minister and government step down.
“The interim government should be established under a person who has the will of the people. The appointment is a step taken to protect the Rajapaksas”
Buddhist monk Ven. 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 will of the people. 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.
Anura Kumara Dissanayake, a leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), 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 his personal residence was torched and destroyed by angry mobs.
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 possessions of property and suspend any law.
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