Beyond Nine July

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The prediction made in Ceylon Today’s Thursday’s (7 July),editorial published under the heading ‘9 July Movement’ has come true.

To quote excerpts, “Coming Saturday’s (9 July), mass protest may be the harbinger leading to the overthrow of the present regime co-led by SLPP Party member and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and UNP leader and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe.

From a terrestrial perspective, the only hope for a premature Government change, given the fact that the next Presidential Poll is due in only another two years time in 2024 and the Parliamentary Poll three years later in 2025, is through ‘people’s power,’ to be demonstrated by the ‘9 July Movement.’ Government of Sri Lanka being overthrown by ‘9 July’ immediately may not happen, but 9 July will be more than a start, a start which will achieve its end, quickly.”

‘9 July’, truly was more than a start. Subsequent to the invasion by ‘People’s Power’ of the Presidential Secretariat; President’s House, Colombo, Temple Trees and the Premier’s private residence in Colombo on that day, both Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe announced their resignations, the former by tomorrow (Wednesday, 13 July) and the latter, after an All Party Government (APG) is formed.

Paving the way for an APG, four of the Cabinet Ministers have, at the time of writing yesterday, resigned, with those remaining saying that they too will quit once an APG is formed.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana has summoned a Party Leaders’ Meeting at his residence in Colombo at 2 p.m. yesterday to decide when Parliament should once more convene. Parliament last sat on Wednesday (6 July).

In a situation where the posts of President and Premier are vacant, the Constitution empowers the Speaker to function as the President until such time Parliament by secret ballot votes for a new President who will serve the remaining term of the immediately preceding President. The Premier is appointed by the President.

It may be presumed that the urgent need of the masses, first, are the free availability of essentials, with their prices being secondary. As someone said, if essentials, meaning fuel, including cooking gas were available to the masses,  “at whatever the price,” without having to queue up for such for days and more often than not having to return home empty handed, there wouldn’t have been no “Aragalaya” that consequentially led to 9 July.

All those essentials led by fossil fuels are however imported items for which purchases Sri Lanka needs  US dollars, which, however, have been squandered during the near 10-year regime of President’s elder brother Mahinda, President from 17 November 2005 to 8 January 2015.

Therefore, if a conducive political environment is now made, the international community (IC) led by the West and Japan will provide Sri Lanka that much needed socioeconomic stability by ensuring aid to the country to import urgently needed fuel to quell further social unrest.

EU in a statement made on Sunday said, “The EU is following developments in Sri Lanka closely. We call on all parties to cooperate and focus on a peaceful, democratic and orderly transition. It is the responsibility of all party leaders to pave the way to a solution to the current crisis and return back to normalcy. The EU is assessing the available options to further step up its support to Sri Lanka’s population.” The EU has made the first move; the island now needs to only reciprocate in kind.

The thorn in the flesh which was a barrier to the IC reaching out to Sri Lanka previously; the Rajapaksas, are now history. It’s now up to Sri Lanka to come up with new leaders and a Cabinet, vis-a-vis the formation of an APG, comprising MPs/members, who are not only acceptable to the Sri Lankan masses, but also to the IC.

In fact, prior to 9 July, the “Aragalaya” youth told the media that in the past, they were fooled by the Rajapaksas to compartmentalise themselves according to race, but now they have seen through the Rajapaksas’ deceit and they can no longer be fooled. The new Government should seriously take note of these new developments to avoid another catastrophe.