Ranil Wickremesinghe pledges to maintain law and order
Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday pledged to maintain law and order and revive the 19th amendment to the Constitution aimed at empowering parliament over the executive President as he was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s interim President until the House elects a successor to Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Rajapaksa, currently in Singapore, emailed his resignation to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, who said on Friday that he accepted his resignation, which he received late on Thursday. Rajapaksa’s resignation came two days after the embattled leader fled to the Maldives and then flew to Singapore in the face of massive protests against his government for mishandling the economy that bankrupted the country. Wickremesinghe, 73, was sworn in as the acting President of Sri Lanka before Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya.
Addressing parliament after he was sworn in as interim President, Wickremesinghe, who is also the Prime Minister, pledged to strictly maintain law and order in the country which has witnessed massive anti-government protests and occupation of key government buildings. He said that the armed forces have been given the powers and the freedom to deal with any acts of violence and sabotage. “I am one hundred per cent supportive of peaceful demonstrations. There is a difference between rioters and protesters,” he said. Wickremesinghe said the true protesters would not resort to unleashing violence.
The parliamentarians who are expected to vote in the process of electing the next President would be given full protection to attend parliament. He said as acting President his first task would be to revive the 19th amendment to the Constitution. A draft would soon be prepared for its restoration. The 19A adopted in 2015 pruned presidential powers by empowering parliament above the executive President. Wickremesinghe was the main sponsor of the 19th Amendment in 2015.
However, the 19A was scrapped after Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the November 2019 presidential election. Resignation accepted Sri Lanka’s parliament accepted the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday after he fled the country, paving the way for lawmakers to start repairing the island’s shattered politics. “From this point, we will move to constitutionally appoint a new President,” the Speaker, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, told reporters after receiving Rajapaksa’s resignation letter the previous night. “It will happen quickly and successfully. I request everyone to support this process.”