Lankan Opposition steps up action


Premadasa is spearheading a campaign against the 20th amendment of the constitution that took powers away from the parliament and vested them in the President….reports Rahul Kumar

After intense debates in the parliament with no solutions proposed by the truncated government of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, opposition parties are now looking at bringing a no-confidence motion against the beleaguered Rajapaksa.

Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa, who heads the Samagi Jana Balwegaya (SJB)–the main opposition party in the island nation, said his party is thinking of moving a no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa unless his government brings immediate relief to the people impacted by the economic crisis.

Sri Lanka has been rocked by public protests for more than a month with people facing acute shortage of food, fuel and power. Angry protestors have even attacked the President’s residence and those of other politicians. Due to rising inflation, masses have reduced their spending on food, schools are shut and tourist activity has come to a standstill.

Premadasa is spearheading a campaign against the 20th amendment of the constitution that took powers away from the parliament and vested them in the President. He told the media: “We have decided to bring a no- confidence motion against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as he has failed to address the country in connection with economic policies. We have called a meeting with all opposition leaders and will take a final decision on it soon.”

His party has also moved a resolution before the parliament to withdraw the 20th amendment which will transfer more powers from the President to the parliament.

Meanwhile, Rajapaksa is also under pressure from former allies–the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which withdrew support from Rajapaksa earlier this week over the economic and social breakdown in the country. The SLFP too wants President Rajapaksa to reduce the executive powers of the President and vest those with the parliament.

SLFP leader Maithripala Sirisena told journalists that his party will be meeting with President Rajapaksa on Sunday evening to urge him to form an interim administration with an all-party cabinet. He also wants the President to reduce the number of his family members from governmental positions.

For nearly a week, Sri Lanka has managed without a proper administration after the previous Ministry resigned owing to large-scale public protests. Sirisena made it clear that Sunday’s meeting with Rajapaksa will try to convince the President that the latter has to reduce the executive powers bestowed on the President through the 20th amendment to the constitution.

He said: “The entire country demands the removal of the Rajapaksa clan and President Rajapaksa from politics in Sri Lanka. It seems that the protests and agitations against the President and the SLPP government will not recede as long as the incumbent government and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa remain in power.”

Stressing that the conditions are dire for a majority of people, Sirisena said: “The people need immediate solutions to their current grievances such as the power outage, the skyrocketing of the price of essential commodities, food shortage, ever escalating cost of living and many more. If we are to find immediate solutions to these pressing issues, first and foremost action must be taken to form a stable government.”

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