Announcing key measures he expects to implement, Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe said the term used when referring to the President, ‘His Excellency’ will not be used anymore and the official flag of the President will be abolished since the country needs only one national flag.
Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the Acting President on Friday (15).
He said that a new President will be appointed next week and in that short space of time, he has been entrusted with the responsibility of temporarily acting as the President. “I hope to take some urgent steps in this short pace of time,” he said.
“The people of the country expect a change in the political system. An important factor for this change is the full implementation of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Therefore, I have started the programme to bring forth the necessary drafts to the Parliament to fully re-implement the 19th Amendment. Immediate steps will be taken to re-establish law and order in the country. I fully accept the right to peacefully protest, but others are now trying to sabotage these protests. It has been reported that outside groups are preparing to try and influence the Members of Parliament during the election of the new President in Parliament next week,” he said.
Wickremesinghe also said MPs’ security will be increased to create the environment for MPs, so that can express their opinion independently. “They will be provided with full protection. We will not allow any group to destroy the democracy of Parliament,” he said. “Also, there are groups that are trying to set the country on fire through fascist methods by suppressing democracy. Two weapons belonging to the security forces along with bullets were stolen by such persons near Parliament. Twenty-four members of the army have been injured. Two of them have been seriously injured today. It is my belief that real fighters do not do such acts. There is a big difference between rebels and protesters. Many people who have been involved in the struggle since the beginning has expressed their opposition to these acts of sabotage. We are bound to ensure they are protected by law and order. We are obliged to uphold democracy.”
The Acting President said that he is bound to protect the Constitution. I will never allow anything unconstitutional to take place in our country. I am not working outside the Constitution. If law and order breaks down, it will affect our economy, he added.
Speaking about current fuel shortage and other key issues in the country he said like fuel, the electricity and water supply as well as food supply can be disrupted. Everyone needs to understand this dangerous situation, he noted.
In order to maintain law and order, I have appointed a special committee consisting of the Chief of the Defence Staff, the Inspector General of Police and the commanders of the three armed forces. They have been given full freedom to take legal action without any political interference, he said.
“We emphasised the government’s position on the establishment of an all-party government at the party leaders’ meeting held last Monday. I request all parties in the Parliament to reach a common agreement for that immediately. These political parties should put aside their differences and opinions and come together for the sake of the country.
Think about protecting the country rather than protecting individuals. We must have a country to live in and do politics. I request all political parties and groups to think about our country, and to think about the people of the country when they act. First, let’s save the country and the people from this current crisis. Then we can turn to party politics,” the Acting President requested.