New Delhi: A group of Sri Lankan students studying abroad has issued a statement expressing concern over the ongoing political and constitutional turmoil in the country. The group has also condemned the recent turn of events.
Stating that although Sri Lanka has had an imperfect and fragile, yet electorally and legally mandated, democracy, it was only last week that an unconstitutional and illegal transfer of power occurred. On Friday evening, Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in by President Maithripala Sirisena with the oath of office. Terming the move unconstitutional, the signatories have said that the resort to violence and coercion is a chilling reminder of what dictatorship looks like.
The coup is being followed by a return to the norms of self-censorship, violence and fear that were characteristic of Rajapaksa-era politics. State media institutions were stormed in the night and security for the prime minister and ministers arbitrarily withdrawn. Moreover, many private media stations are already becoming vehicles for misinforming the public and spreading disinformation. By referring to Mr. Rajapaksa as prime minister they are renouncing the constitution and the democratic process, and normalising an illegitimate regime.
The signatories have also said that the the failure of Sirisena and Wickremesinghe to stand by its many commitments do not justify an illegal power grab. They have urged for the following measures:
- President Maithripala Sirisena to rescind his order proroguing Parliament.
- The Speaker of Parliament, Karu Jayasuriya, to immediately summon Parliament.
- A vote to ascertain whether the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe commands the confidence of Parliament.
- All those responsible for this coup to be held accountable for their actions.
- All public servants to uphold the Constitution and fulfill their obligations set out in law.
Read the full statement below.