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Buddhist chief prelates in Sri Lanka have called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to hand over the reins of the island nation to an interim government comprising all political parties until fresh parliamentary polls are held.
“The president must immediately dissolve the cabinet, including the prime minister, in accordance with his powers,” said the chief prelates in a statement on April 4.
Rajapaksa offered to share power with the opposition on April 4 as protests escalated across Sri Lanka demanding his resignation over worsening shortages of food, fuel and medicines
The Buddhist monks disapproved of attempts by the state to suppress peaceful mass protests against the difficulties of living and to register mass disaffection with the ruling dispensation.
But protester Harshani Vilathgamuwa said they did not want the support of monks who had wrongly supported and misguided the present government.
She said the solution to the national crisis was to send the president to jail and not home. The Rajapaksa family should not be allowed to leave the country either, she added.
“For more than 75 years, we have all been suffering the consequences and there is a need to change the constitution of the country. It seems there is no country for the younger generation today”
“Rajapaksa and his relatives should remain in the country until every cent they have taken from the people is recovered,” Vilathgamuwa said.
The monks said that they do not condone attacks on the public and journalists under the guise of suppressing protests. “As the head of state at this crucial juncture, we urge you [Rajapaksa] to be sensitive to the aspirations of the people, understand the aspirations of the people and take immediate action to provide immediate relief for the welfare of the people,” they added.
The monks further observed that “politicians who have long acted opportunistically without national responsibility based on a narrow political agenda have failed to find sustainable solutions.”
Bishop Raymond Wickramasinghe of Galle said: “For more than 75 years, we have all been suffering the consequences and there is a need to change the constitution of the country. It seems there is no country for the younger generation today.”
The prelate asked the government and the opposition to stop further destruction of the country. “If someone in the country has committed theft, do justice legally,” said Bishop Wickramasinghe.
The entire Sri Lankan cabinet resigned on April 4 and the president invited all political parties to join him in finding solutions to the ongoing crisis. But the opposition rejected the invitation and instead told his government to step down.
“They must go home and that is what people have urged. Gotabaya used the resources of the country as his private property,” said Anura Kumara Dissanayake, leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).
By UCA News reporter, Colombo
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