President gives reins to PM at eleventh hour

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Acting President in accordance with the Article 37(1) of the Constitution, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said yesterday (13).

Meanwhile, the Gazette Extraordinary was issued by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa late last night, appointing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to exercise, perform and discharge the powers, duties and functions of the Office of President with effect from 13 July 2022.

In a special statement, the Speaker said President Rajapaksa informed that the Prime Minister was appointed as the Acting President to act on the President’s behalf as he is out of the country. 

The Speaker’s statement came after confusions arose when the PM’s Office announced at about 11.35 a.m. that Wickremesinghe ordered the Police to impose curfew in the Western Province and emergency law islandwide with immediate effect, amidst several protests.

The Police was not aware of the PM’s instructions at that moment, Ceylon Today reliably learns.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa tweeted that the curfew and emergency law imposed under the instructions of Wickremesinghe was not valid without the President appointing him to act on his behalf.

The PM’s office later clarified that when Wickremesinghe was appointed Acting President, he would instruct to impose curfew.

After the curfew announcement of the PM’s Office, several Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) helicopters were seen flying over a number of areas including the GotaGoGama protest site.

A few helicopters have also been spotted flying near the Prime Minister’s office on Flower Road, Colombo 07. 

The Speaker’s announcement of appointing Wickremesinghe as the Acting President was made after 1.00 p.m.

By Methmalie Dissanayake