Pressure groups demand incumbent government to step down and form an interim all-party government to end the suffering of its people
The Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration has put Sri Lankans in a dilemma as people anticipate when they would get the next gas cylinder, next share of fuel, vegetables and essential items at affordable prices and when the country would return to normalcy. While state-level discussions to seek financial assistance from allies continue, peaceful protesters urge the incumbent government to resign. A mass protest has already been organized on July 9 and many believe this to be a deciding moment in the history of Sri Lankan politics. Adding on to the pressure, civil society groups, medical professionals and members of the clergy too have requested the government to resign and to form an all-party government to bring about stability in the country. But whether an all-party government would be successful with the same head of state remains a doubt.
SLMA fervently requests current administration to resign
Issuing a statement the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) expressed its fears regarding the way the country is being dragged along with no clear solutions in sight to pull it out of the abyss that it has been made to sink into.
“We have seen the tremendous and unbearable suffering of the masses with distressing problems that have become an unfortunate part of their lives. These are obvious and well known but yet, the authorities seem to be completely deaf and blind to them. It is not necessary for us at the SLMA to reiterate the dreadful misery that our people have been subjected to during the last few months. The governing regime has completely failed in its sacred duty to safeguard our people.
In such a scenario, we are forced to declare, without any hesitation whatsoever, that what is needed as a likely solution to all these ills that we are forced to suffer, is a complete change of direction for the country.
We are compelled to say enough, is definitely enough. The only choice that we have is to fervently request the current administration to step down without any further delay at all and hand over the reins to an all-party consensual administration. Such an administration could then at least try to salvage the country from the many- faceted quagmire to which it has been dragged into by poor governance. It is a frightening impeachment on the political representatives of the current government, duly elected by our own people,” the statement read.
AMS calls for nationwide trade union action
Echoing similar sentiments the Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) demanded that the Gotabaya-Ranil administration should step down immediately and pave the way for a credible, all-party interim government to take over for a specified period to implement a common minimum effective program to take our country out of this economic and social crisis.
“If they turn a blind eye to our demand, we urge all professional groups, political parties and other masses to seriously consider the need for a nationwide trade union action and mass scale peaceful protests to see an end to the downfall of our motherland,” the statement further read.
All-party government, the need of the hour
Several members of the clergy too have called on the incumbent government to step down. Chief incumbent of Abhayaramaya temple Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda thera who has been a strong supporter of the Rajapaksas said that every action taken by the incumbent government has proven to be futile. “Therefore an all-party government should be established to end people of their suffering. People don’t need a government that asks them to cultivate crops and as such the incumbent government should resign with immediate effect,” he said.
Archbishop says govt. has no ethical right to remain in power
At a recent media briefing Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said that people have lost their trust in the Rajapaksa family and as a result people are not willing to accept any economic, political or social reform that is being brought about as these reforms may have been amended for their own benefit.
“However the Rajapaksas continue to remain in power while ignoring every opportunity they had to do some service to the people. Therefore the President and incumbent government has no ethical right to remain in power. I request them to step down from their positions and handover the power to the people without pressuring them further. By establishing an interim all-party government people will be able to achieve the desired structural change in a credible and transparent manner. This new government should take steps to resolve prevailing crises with the support of a credible, technical committee comprising professionals. Once the situation stabilizes a general election should be held as soon as possible.”
Activists demand Parliament to be dissolved
Several sectors have been handicapped as a result of the prevailing fuel crisis. The food industry is one of these sectors that includes around 500,000 self-employed individuals operating everything from canteens to mobile food trucks to small scale hotels.
“People in this industry have been affected ever since domestic gas cylinders exploded. Prices of vegetables and meat items have soared and therefore the price of lunch packets too has increased. Initially the price of a chicken rice and curry lunch packet was Rs. 250 but today it’s Rs. 450. Around 60-70% of canteens and small scale food ventures have closed down. There were those who made a living by selling food items such as lavariya, pancake etc., and these vendors have no mode of income today. People have to satisfy their hunger with either two glasses of water or thrive on a plain tea and a short eat.”
He further said that food chains owned by multinational companies have all resources including cooking gas. “What needs to be done is to dissolve Parliament and go in for an election because none of the politicians can go in front of the public today. There’s no new face and all of them are thriving on commissions. Since we don’t see any solution to this crisis we will begin our fight in the near future.”
How can an all-party be successful?
“The government has failed due to mismanagement and shortsightedness,”opined civil society activist Gamini Viyangoda. “This is why the economic crisis has aggravated into a political crisis. As a result we are not getting any international assistance. The IMF, EU, Japan, US and China have turned their back on us. Except India, no other country has come forward to assist us. Even the IMF is not giving a clear answer and this is because they feel that the government has no mandate. Until the President resigns there won’t be stability in this country. Irrespective of whether they bring Dhammika Perera or Ranil Wickremesinghe the head of state is the same.”
He further said that even if they form an all-party government there won’t be a change in leadership. “Therefore even if there’s an all-party government with members from opposition parties they will still be controlled by the Parliament. They can always weaken the newly formed cabinet. If an all-party government is going to be established it has to be under one condition; a confirmation from the President that he will resign on a particular day. For instance if he says he is going to resign within three months, a newly formed interim government should resolve the prevailing crises and earn the trust of the people,” he added while stressing on the fact that the president has disproved the mandate given to him by appointing Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister.
Disclaimer: “Mr. President, it’s time to resign!” demand clergy, pressure groups - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view