PM resigns; govt. collapses
Sajith and his MPs encounter hostility, but not JVP leaders
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The entire Cabinet of Ministers, including Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, resigned hours after protests erupted in Colombo, its suburbs and several other parts of the country. Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Local Government members and their henchmen attacked those who had been demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Cabinet of Ministers, including Premier Mahinda Rajapkasa over the current economic crisis.
SLPP mobs destroyed Opposition activists’ constructions and property opposite Temple Trees and then they marched to the Galle Face Green, where they demolished well over a dozen tents. At both places, mobs ,burnt protesters’ belongings while the police made a feeble attempt to rein them in.
Television channels and social media provided uninterrupted coverage of the mob attacks. SLPP activists were shown walking out of Temple Trees and then going on the rampage following a meeting with Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday (09).
Premier Rajapaksa called the hastily arranged meeting in spite of the promulgation of emergency effective midnight 07 May.
Police at Temple Trees looked the other way as mobs swung into action and cleared the protest site within minutes and marched towards Galle Face. They easily broke through the police line near the Galle Face Hotel and went on the rampage at the Galle Face site. They set fire to a makeshift library.
The police fired tear gas and water cannon at the attackers invading the Galle Face Green with little success. At one point, a Buddhist monk, who had accompanied the SLPP mob, blocked the path of water cannon as goons controlled the protest site. They forced the protesters to abandon the area. About 80 protesters who had been wounded at Galle Face were rushed to the National Hospital.
However, around 2.30 pm- 3 pm, the situation changed with the arrival of large groups of youth and Opposition activists at Galle Face, where they mounted a fresh protest demanding the resignation of the government. The public defied the countrywide curfew declared by the government and large groups of public servants, too, joined the protest. After the arrival of reinforcements, protesters, too, hit back hard. The video footage of some of the attackers caught by the public is now in the public domain. Some of those who attended the Temple Trees meeting earlier in the day were plunged into the Beira Lake.
MPJohnston Fernando’s vehicle was also pushed into the Beira.
Near the National Hospital, medical staff blocked a police jeep. The driver was compelled to reverse the vehicle. Protesting public urged the police and the military not to protect the government.
Opposition and Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa alleged that the government unleashed goons on the public demanding the resignation of the government. Lawmaker Premadasa said that the government should be held accountable for unprovoked attacks on the public.
Earlier, SJB Chief Premadasa and several of his MPs, including Eran Wickremaratne and Mujibur Rahuman had to flee Galle Face when protesters threw various objects at them. Their bodyguards had to evacuate them.
Teacher trade union leader Joseph Stalin, addressing the media at the scene of the incidents said that the SLPP attackers had arrived there with the police. Stalin alleged that the police had actually facilitated the goons operation. Stalin vowed to continue their campaign until the Rajapaksas resigned.
JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake and former MPs, Lal Kantha, Wasantha Samarasinghe and Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa visited the scene without any problem.
By yesterday evening thousands of people converged on Galle Face, where they demanded the arrest of those responsible for unprovoked attacks on the public. The public protests at the Galle Face got underway on 09 April following 03 April countrywide protest demanding the resignation of the incumbent administration.
The attacks on the anti-government protesters triggered a wave of violence across many parts of the country, and houses of some SLPP politicians were set on fire.
Houses, etc., of SLPP politicians torched
Vehicles and houses of several SLPP politicians were damaged in various parts of the country yesterday.
The house of MP Sanath Nishantha seen with the SLPP goons at the Galle Face attack on protestors was set on fire. People who staged a protest in the Arachchikattuwa town yesterday afternoon marched to MP Nishantha’s house and pelted stones at it. Later they set it on fire.
Protesters torched Kurunegala Mayor Thushara Sanjeewa’s house too. There had been a protest in the Kurunegala town earlier in the day to condemn the SLPP goons attack on protestors demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at Galle Face.
The protesters in the Kurunegala town later marched to the residence of Mayor Sanjeewa and set it on fire.
Meanwhile, a group of persons set fire to the residence of Moratuwa Mayor Saman Lal Fernando, in Willorawatte.
Former Minister Johnston Fernando’s party office in Kurunegala too had been set on fire.
Former Minister Nimal Lanza’s residence and his father’s house too were set on fire by a mob.
Police said former minister Dr Ramesh Pathirana’s house too had been ransacked and set on fire by a group of unidentified protestors.
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. pic.twitter.com/dhAonet10J
— 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.
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.”
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.
Govt. allows private operators to import fuel for industries – minister
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