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‘Appointment of Ranil as PM not change of direction protesters yearn for’



The appointment of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new Prime Minister on Thursday (12) was an extension of the status quo ante and not the change of direction that the people yearn for, a group of politicians and activists has said.The signatories to statement include A.M. Faaiz, Bhavani Fonseka, Shanakiyan Rasamanikam, M.A. Sumanthiran, Ermiza Tegal and Jayadeva Uyangoda.The activists have urged all Members of Parliament, belonging to government and opposition ranks, to listen to the demands of the Sri Lankan people for a genuine change in government and governance.”They ignore this at their own peril, and that of the country. It is imperative that even now, all MPs take a principled stand that reflects the demands of the people to create a political change in Sri Lanka,” these activists said.They also said that all perpetrators of violence should be brought to book, forthwith, and condemned the reimposition of the State of Emergency from midnight on the 6th of May 2022, after revoking it on the 5th of April 2022.

“We vehemently condemn the violence unleashed on peaceful protesters on May 9, 2022 both at Minagogama and Gotagogama, credibly endorsed by the then Prime Minister and members of the government. The demands of the protestors at Gotagogama include an end to the culture of violence and impunity,” they said.The activists have said they also denounce equally the counter-violence perpetrated on persons and properties. They said all perpetrators of violence should be brought to book forthwith.”Violence is antithetical to what Gotagogama stood and stands for. By the committed and sustained peaceful conduct, the protestors at Gotagogama and all other sites of protest have earned the support, solidarity, and goodwill of the citizenry of the country and reflect Sri Lankans demanding in unison that the President goes home. Any attempt by elements with vested interests to discredit the peaceful protestors by attributing violence to them or any attempt to disrupt the peaceful protests using force or emergency should be desisted,” they said.

Given below are excerpts of the statement: “The attempts by the police to crack down on peaceful protests and intimidate protesters who are exercising their democratic right to dissent, shows the intention of the security establishment to create tension and violence. These attempts are more intense, induce greater fear and are effectively stifling of voices from the North and East of Sri Lanka. Excessive force by the authorities and the visible inaction to prevent harm to citizens in recent weeks has escalated violence, wreaked havoc and resulted in the death of one person in Rambukkana and injured several across other sites of protests. We note with extreme concern the attempts made to thwart the freedom of movement of citizens by the use of barricades, including those with spikes that can cause grievous injury, the use of curfew and emergency regulations. We decry these tactics of violence and intimidation against peaceful protesters and call out these acts as violations of the fundamental rights of the citizens in Sri Lanka.”We recognize that peaceful protests across Sri Lanka have called for a system change in the country. The general public has demonstrated widespread support for this change, and the citizens actively engaged in the ‘aragalaya’ continue to fearlessly and determinedly stand fast in their demands. They have been undeterred by complacency, coercion and criticism in peacefully pursuing their vision of forging a new Sri Lanka.”This political awakening is redefining the role of the citizen and the relationship between the citizen and the state with a clear message: change can only begin with #GoHomeGota. We echo this demand. The President must resign. This must be followed by other steps including constitutional, legal and economic reforms that are essential to address the growing humanitarian, economic and political crisis and ensure stability in Sri Lanka.

“We also recognise in the protesters’ demands for a new Sri Lanka, the call for economic justice and strong social protections, especially for the working people of this country. We also highlight that the demands by women citizens at the protests reflect their multiple and continued struggles for justice in the political, economic and social spheres of life.”Further, we urge all Members of Parliament, in government and opposition, to listen to the demands of the Sri Lankan people for a genuine change in government and governance. They ignore this at their own peril, and that of the country. It is imperative that even now, all MPs take a principled stand that reflects the demands of the people to create political change in Sri Lanka. In this context we view the appointment of the new Prime Minister yesterday as an extension of the status quo ante and not the change of direction that the people yearn for.”We recognize that Sri Lanka is in a deep economic crisis and any way out of the crisis is daunting. At the same time, we urge the government and the policy-makers not to pass the burden of economic recovery on the poor, the workers, and the middle classes. A sustainable and transparent policy package of social protection should be in place during the period of economic reconstruction in order to manage Sri Lanka’s unprecedented social crisis.We affirm our solidarity with the people’s struggle for change and a new political culture, and commit to work towards realizing justice in Sri Lanka’s transformation.”

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Govt. allows private operators to import fuel for industries – minister



ECONOMYNEXT – The Government has allowed private bunker fuel operators to import fuel for industries, Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said on Friday, in a bid to reduce the burden on cash-strapped state-run fuel retailer Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).

The move comes as a severe dollar shortage has reduced CPC’s ability to import fuel and meet the demand as earlier amid long motorists’ queues for fuel.

“Approval was given to all the private bunker fuel operators to import and provide diesel and fuel oil requirements of industries to function their Generators and Machinery,” Wijesekera said in his Twitter platform.

“This will ease the burden on CPC and fuel stations providing in bulk. The meeting was held yesterday.”

Approval was given to all the Private Bunker Fuel Operators to Import and provide Diesel and Fuel Oil requirements of Industries to function their Generators and Machinery. This will ease the burden on CPC and Fuel Stations providing in bulk. The meeting was held yesterday.

— Kanchana Wijesekera (@kanchana_wij) May 27, 2022

In April, Sri Lanka cabinet has agreed to amend the Petroleum Products Act making provisions to issue licenses to “properly identified parties” to import fuel which will end an import monopoly held by the CPC.

There was a push to make the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to import its own oil as the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation was unable to get foreign exchange and the power utility ran out of cash due to lack of a price increases.

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Protesters ask PM to serve justice for May 09 attack



ECONOMYNEXT – Hundreds of anti-government protesters agitated in front of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesighe ’s office Colombo demanding justice for May 09 attack by the supporters of previous prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and immediate measures to overcome ongoing economic crisis to prevent a looming social unrest.

The youth-led groups which had been protesting near presidential secretariat and prime minister’s official residence in the heart of commercial Colombo shifted neat the prime minister’s office and shouted against the new government’s inaction against the brutal attack at unarmed and peaceful protesters by Rajapaksa supporters on May 09.

They demanded the new Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to implement the rule of law without being biased to any parties and serve the country.

Rukshan, a 25 years old protester said, as per the initial demands of their protests, former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from his position, but his successor should do his duties towards the country and the people without trying to protect corrupt politicians.

“When we started the protest back in April our main demand was to bring all Rajapaksas before justice and get all the wealth they have stolen from the common people of this country,”  Rukshan told Economy Next.

The protest started around mid-day on Thursday (26) and protesters’ route was blocked by police barricades on the main road in front of the prime minister’s office.

The protesters, however, withdrew from their positions and regrouped at a nearby road to go towards the Wickremesinghe’s office.

However, by the time the protesters regrouped, a court order was issued by the Fort Magistrate to stop the protest due to inconvenience to the public.

“Ranil Wickramasinghe should remember why he is here now. We’re not asking him to resign. He is here to do his duty towards this country and its people,” Rukshan said.

“On May 09, we were attacked but no justice has been served yet. That is the main reason we came today to the prime minister’s office,” he said.

“We still see queues for medicine, fuel, and gas. To be honest, there is no medicine in the market. No medicine for cancer patients. If you get bitten by a dog, then there is no medicine for you. They (the market) don’t have any of that.”

Wickremesinghe has been working over a new budget and discussing with international partners to ensure uninterrupted supply of essentials, officials close to him have said. However, it will take time, they say.

Rukshan said the country is running due to the state workers, who are working as they are being paid salaries after the government’s excess money printing.

“When that stops, then there will definitely be a revolution in this country,” he said.

“When a person goes to office in the morning, there is no fuel for the vehicle, or no public transport available. They get late and the salaries are being cut because of that. And when they come home, they don’t have gas to cook a meal.”

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Weerawansa’s wife gets two years for passport offence



Her lawyers file appeal challenging sentence

Colombo Chief Magistrate Buddhika Sri Ragala on Friday sentenced Shashi Weerawansa the wife of former minister Wimal Weerawansa to two years in prison. Shashi was found guilty of using falsified documents to obtain a passport.

The Magistrate also ordered the accused to pay a fine of Rs. 100,000 in addition to the imprisonment and an additional six months of jail if she does not pay the fine.

Sashi Weerawansa is found guilty by the court for obtaining diplomatic and general passports by submitting birth certificates with forged names and dates of birth.

She had applied for a diplomatic passport in 2010 by submitting false personal information which was different to what appears in her previous normal passport that expired on May 24, 2009.

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