By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando Saturday, July 30, 2022 – Daily News
The seventh Executive President of the Social Republic of Sri Lanka, Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa RWP RSP finally had to leave the country after a public campaign which started on March 31, 2022 at his private residence in Mirihana, Nugegoda.
On June 9, a rampage followed when protesters at Galle Face were reportedly beaten by supporters of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), with iron bars and sticks. Among the protesters were looters and thugs who misbehaved by engaging in looting and arson where important modern homes of parliamentarians and government ministers suffered heavy losses, including their vehicles of luxury.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa was given a one-month grace period to leave the presidency. After a month, on July 9, large crowds forced their way into the President’s house in Fort, Colombo, just before the President left the President’s house. ‘GotaGoHome’ was the slogan used by the protesters.
CID has so far collected clear facial images of 20 suspects involved in the arson attack on President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s private residence at 5th Lane, Kollupitiya on July 9, 2022. CID has managed to collect these images from the videos and photos posted on social media by people present at the time of the arson from unedited footage obtained from the media.
The CID also discovered that one of the suspects had traveled to the UK via Dubai. The CID asked the public to help them identify the suspects from their personal smart phones. Consequently, the photos must be made public from the police headquarters. Apparently, the fingerprint department also visited every corner to see the devastation that had been done to the President’s house, the Presidential Secretariat and the Prime Minister’s official residence.
Media said the fingerprints matched the Colombo Crimes Registry Office where the fingerprints of many known criminals were stored. It was also found that several people involved in the Aragalaya were among them.
The former president goes down in the history books of Sri Lanka as the only president who had to step down from the executive presidency midway due to unprecedented public protests. He was elected in the presidential elections on November 16, 2019, with an impressive majority with a government that had a two-thirds majority in parliament. The public expected so much change from President Rajapaksa at first, but his incompetence in picking square pegs from round holes rather than those that helped him enter the executive presidency led to his downfall. His former advisers were professionals (Viathmaga) but it was unfortunate that his so-called ‘favorite ‘advisors’ or charlatans (the good word) ruined everything in the end.
Initially, the public did not know where he was. Some speculated that he was hiding in a bunker or flew to Trincomalee Naval Base, but later it emerged that he flew to the Maldives Islands, his first destination, then traveled to Singapore. He posted his resignation letter from Singapore on July 15. There have only been two cases of Sri Lankan presidents or prime ministers resigning from office. One was when Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake was forced to resign in the face of a major union strike in the country in 1952. It was a voluntary resignation, but not out of public unrest. The second case was when President Ranasinghe Premadasa was assassinated during a May Day rally. Here, of course, Dingiri Banda Wijetunga became president without much hassle. On July 15, 2022, the President received by email the letter of resignation from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa officially.
Then-Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was officially named president on July 20 in parliament by secret ballot.
Enter the new president
Three candidates were in the running for the presidency. In the end, Ranil Wickremesinghe won the majority of votes after a secret ballot by parliamentarians. Meanwhile, those involved in the ‘Aragalaya‘ insisted that Ranil Wickremesinghe step down and leave someone better qualified to function as president. Whatever one says about Ranil Wickremesinghe, he is an internationally renowned politician with a great experience in Parliament; He was the only one of the 225 Members of Parliament who bravely took up the challenge of resolving the economic crisis in Sri Lanka at the moment.
During his tenure as interim president, he showed more charisma than former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa. But there have been comments about his decision to kick the Aragalaya crowd out of Secretariat. The police explanation was that the protesters had given a number of excuses as to why they were not leaving the Secretariat entrance. Meanwhile, the President had so much to do in his office and the blockage to his entrance needed to be cleared. The demonstrators were expelled early in the morning that day, which tarnished the image of the new president.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was appointed President on July 20, 2022, has a difficult task ahead of him to lead the country out of the dangerous situation it is currently facing. There are no quick fixes to revive the economy, which is going through difficult times. Let’s be honest and ask ourselves; Are there politicians in the country who are qualified, internationally recognized and able to negotiate with international leaders, in particular with the IMF? Former Finance Minister Ali Sabry, PC did an excellent job explaining the country’s dire situation to the IMF; he was reappointed as foreign minister to negotiate with the IMF.
Troubles and troubles or continued manifestations will not help to cause a change in the ‘system’. It is the clergy and his Eminence the Cardinal who have the primary responsibility to nurture some logic in the minds of the demonstrators to prevent the country from descending into anarchy, much worse than what people had seen in the past. Therefore, both sides have no choice but to advise protesters to strictly adhere to and abide by the Sri Lankan Constitution, as no country will be able to survive without giving pride of place to law and justice. order.
In a ‘system change whose young protesters were frantic, the new procedures should include the elimination of corruption and bribery as a main feature. An independent judiciary, with a very efficient public service and an effective police should be a criterion for planning a new beginning.