Today, if the Speaker had become President and an interim government was formed…!

The day that the history of Sri Lanka was to be changed was 09 July 2022. On that day, a meeting of party leaders was held under the chairmanship of the Speaker of the Parliament. In that meeting, the party leaders came to an agreement that the then President Gotabhaya and Prime Minister Ranil should step down and allow an all-party government to be formed. Immediately after the meeting, the speaker made a statement and said that the request for the resignation of the President and the Prime Minister was conveyed to President Gota who was in the Maldives.

After the meeting, Muslim Congress leader Rauf Hakeem said in a statement that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had agreed to resign. Sri Lanka Freedom party MP Anganam Ramanathan said that, the commanders of the three armed forces were also present at the meeting. and they too expressed the view that the strugglers two main demands the resignation of President Gotabhaya and Prime Minister Ranil should be to ensured .

Shortly after this news was aired, the Prime Minister’s Media Unit issued a statement that Ranil had not agreed to step down as Prime Minister and that he would remain as Prime Minister until an all-party government was formed. After that, the activists near Ranil’s private house and the Sirasa media network were attacked. Ranil’s house was burnt after that attack.

The next day, a meeting of party leaders was held under the chairmanship of the speaker. The party leaders agreed to appoint the speaker as the president of an interim government, provide basic solutions to the economic crisis, abolish the executive presidential system and go for a general election.

To those series of meetings, leader of J.V.P. Anura Kumara Dissanayake also participated and agreed to it. Also, the frontline socialist party, which was a major leader in the struggle, also liked the interim government with the speaker as the president. The commanders of the three armed forces, who attended the meeting as observers, demanded that they be empowered to implement the resolution immediately and pacify the country.

Podujana Peramuna also participated in this series of meetings and they also did not oppose it. Ranil did not attend the meeting that day. He was discussing it with the Rajapaksa family including Mahinda Rajapaksa, Namal Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa. Ranil pointed out to the Rajapaksa family that if the Speaker’s President proposal is implemented, Sajith Premadasa will become the Prime Minister and the Rajapaksa family will be put in jail by that government.

He forced the Rajapaksa family to appoint him as acting president to prevent it. Namal was afraid that if Sajith became the Prime Minister, his politics would be over. Basil was afraid that if the speaker became powerful and Dullas became powerful, he would be finished. They immediately called Gota who was in Maldives and got a letter signed appointing Ranil as the Acting President.

But Gotabhaya was in between two worlds. Dullas and the independent group from Podujana Peramuna pressured Gota to allow the interim government that would be good for the country without being influenced by the Rajapaksa family. Ranil took assumed as the Acting President after the letter and called a cabinet meeting, but all but two or three ministers boycotted it and held a press conference and said that they would resign from their ministerial positions to make way for an interim government.

Ranil, in a statement as Acting President, said that he had not received any letters of resignation from any member of the Cabinet of Ministers. Likewise, Gota’s resignation too be announced during the day, he said in a statement. Gota changed his mind during that time.

Gotabhaya made a special statement from Maldives that he will issue his statements only through the Speaker. But Mahinda, Namal and Basil threatened Gota not to remove Ranil as Acting President or Prime Minister. Ranil also promised that he would ensure Gota’s safety and that he would not change the positions of Gota’s appointed Secretary of Defense and the Chief of Defense, if he wanted to go to the United States, or if he wanted to stay in Sri Lanka, he would be provided with facilities for that.

 Ranil ensured that experience he gained by suppressing the rebellion of 1988-89, he would show his capabilities and suppress the struggle and give the opportunity to the Rajapaksa family to return to politics. Gotabhaya shed the party leader’s proposal to remove Ranil from the post of Prime Minister and make it possible for the Speaker to become the President. Ranil became the Acting President, attacked and suppressed the struggle and got the votes of the Podujana Peramuna through the Rajapaksa family and became the President from the Parliament.

Ranil’s becoming president brought the old traditional politics back to life. The struggle started against this old politics. Sajith and the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, Anura’s JVP as well as Dullas’ independent group that came out of the government supported the struggle to end traditional politics. All these three are leaders who have no backbone to the elite family class who have protected the traditional politics.

Even after Ranil and the Rajapaksa family disrupted the process of forming an interim government under the leadership of the speaker, Sajith and Dullas joined the vote to elect the president in the parliament and formed an interim government under conditions favorable to the people. Manage the economic crisis and go to a general election. Ranil and the Rajapaksa family thwarted that last attempt.

However, if the Speaker became the President or Sajith-Dullas became the Prime Minister-President and formed an interim government, the struggle would not end with repression, but with a good historical agreement for the country. That is with an agreement to apprehend thieves and punish the thieves and create a system where the stolen money can be taken to the country and cannot be stolen back again.

In that case the agreement would have signed by the interim government and the leaders of the struggle. If that happened, the finance minister of the interim government would go to IMF with the proposals and conditions of the interim government representing all the parties. If so, the IMF did not have to wait until March to give relief. That could have been relieved by signing the staff level agreement in July itself. If the Speaker’s interim government had signed agreements with the leaders of the struggle then, the foreign media that came to report the struggle would have given it to the world so that Sri Lanka could set an example to the world.

This month of May mark one year since Ranil became Prime Minister. Sri Lanka has up to now received only IMF aid as relief. It is also 330 million dollars. If the speaker had become the president and formed an interim government and got the support of the activists, by now Sri Lanka would have held a general election and appointed a stable government and abolished the presidential system.

It was sabotaged by the Rajapaksa family and Ranil Wickramasinghe. This is the hidden story that Wimal pretends not to know, that the whole country knows.

By Upul Joseph Fernando

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