By Susitha Fernando
Colombo, Nov 23 : Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe warned on Wednesday that any attempt to topple the government through an anti-government protest or ‘Aragalaya’ would be crushed using military power and Emergency laws.
Addressing the Parliament during the budget debate, Wickremesinghe said that he would not allow unlawful protests as were seen since March this year, which overthrew the government led by then President Goatabaya Rajapaksa.
“If anyone thinks that they can engage in another struggle without obtaining a licence, stop it. I have instructed the police. If anyone tries to stage a protest to topple the government, I will not allow it. I will impose Emergency law and deploy the military. There is no room for ‘Dinh Diems’ in this country,” the President said, referring to the dictatorial first President of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem.
Wickremesinghe, whose house was also burnt during the July 9 attacks on pro-government politicians, said that a commission will be appointed to investigate the violent incidents.
He also charged Kumar Gunaratnam, leader of one of the Marxist parties, Frontline Socialist Front, with initiating protests and alleged that Gunaratnam was accused of killing Indian Peace Keeping forces that were in Sri Lanka during the war in the North and the East of the country.
“Anyone can hold protests or meetings legitimately. You can shout as much as you want and call me a dictator. I don’t mind. However, I must say one thing. Get your permit to protest before you take to the streets,” he said.
Wickremesinghe also vowed that he would not dissolve the Parliament as demanded by the opposition.
“There is a big problem with the economy of this country. Many people in the country are fed up with elections, and the political parties are also fed up,” he said.
During his address, Wickremesinghe also invited all the lawmakers to meet on December 11 and find a solution to the ethnic crisis, including power devolution.
He said that since 1980s, various solutions have been discussed, and he plans to find a final solution to the ethnic crisis by next year before celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Sri Lanka’s independence.
With Sri Lanka going through unprecedented economic crisis without basic essentials like food, fuel, medicine and electricity, people took to the street in March this year and launched an island-wide protest that led to the ouster of the Rajapaksa-led government.
Wickremesinghe, backed by pro-Rajapaksa party MPs, has formed a government but the opposition parties have accuse him of continuing Rajapaksa rule.