Ranil Needs to be Credible

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Impartiality beginning at the top, starting with President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa (SLPP) and UNP leader and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe, immediately facilitating investigations into last Monday’s (9 May) violence is sine qua non if Sri Lanka is to obtain sustainable foreign aid quickly, so as to ensure socioeconomic stability in the country, fast.

Foreign aid is needed urgently to import essentials like medicines, cooking gas, petrol, diesel and kerosene to start with as Sri Lanka has no US dollars to execute the same, in the backdrop that Sri Lanka is an import-dependent economy.

Such impartial investigations have to ‘begin at the beginning’, starting with investigations into attacks on peaceful demonstraters opposite Temple Trees, Kollupitiya and at Galle Face Green, agitating for the removal of the President’s elder brother, the then Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa and the President himself, attacks which took place in broad daylight, due to the above state of affairs, made worse by the astronomical rise in the cost of living and inflation at over 20 per cent.

Subsequent to last Monday’s events, Mahinda resigned as Premier and Wickremesinghe succeeded him. The masses are looking at Wickremesinghe to deliver the goods, beginning with the free availability of essentials which his uncle J.R. Jayewardene successfully delivered when facing a similar situation 45 years ago in 1977, only to be robbed and be denied of such essentials once more by the Rajapaksas, currently.

If Wickremesinghe fails, the country will once more be plunged into chaos and mayhem, worse than that which took place last Monday night, consequent to the authorities’ nonchalance when peaceful demonstrators at Temple Trees and Galle Face were clubbed and assaulted by Rajapaksa’s goons, regardless of whether they were men or women.

On Sunday, Wickremesinghe’s first cousin and UNP Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene wrote to IGP C.D. Wickramaratne requesting for the immediate arrests of individuals who attacked protesters opposite Temple Trees and Galle Face Green on 9 May.

Wijewardene, in his letter, said that the main perpetrators are still at large and only one individual has been apprehended thus far. He said that therefore it is disconcerting that more arrests have not been made despite the lapse of almost a week.

He further said that a complaint has also been lodged in this regard, while submissions have been made in Court with names of individuals who were directly behind the attack.

Wijewardene said that Wickremesinghe has given him the task of holding discussions with the Galle Face protesters and arriving at decisions to resolve their concerns. He said that he is facing difficulties in winning their confidence due to the delay in apprehending the attackers.

Wijewardene would have strengthened his, his party’s and his cousin’s bona fides if he had copied this letter to the President, considering the fact, that days before last Monday’s violence, the President had declared a state of emergency in the country, which is still continuing.

Under emergency laws, to quote excerpts, “Any Police Officer may arrest without warrant any person who is committing or has committed or whom he has reasonable ground for suspecting to be committing or to have committed any offence.

The authorities may take possession or control, on behalf of the State, of any property or undertaking; make provisions for the apprehension and punishment of offenders and for their trial by Courts. No emergency regulation, and no order, rule or direction made or given there-under shall be called in question in any Court.

No prosecution or other criminal proceeding against any person for any act purporting to be done under any provision of any emergency regulation or of any order or direction made or given there-under shall be instituted in any Court except with the written sanction of the Attorney-General and no suit, prosecution or other proceeding, civil or criminal, shall lie against any person for any act in good faith done in pursuance or supposed pursuance of any such provision.”

Wickremesinghe and cousin Wijewardene may have missed the bus either by design or by chance, but not so the international community nor the masses per se who want tangible, credible results.