COLOMBO, April 6 (PTI): Sri Lankan Government on Wednesday said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will not resign under any circumstances and will face the current issues, as it defended the embattled leader’s decision to enforce a state of emergency, which he later revoked after huge public protests demanded his resignation over the country’s worst economic crisis.
Speaking in Parliament, Chief Government Whip Minister Johnston Fernando said the government will face this problem and there is no reason for the President to resign as he was elected to office.
Claiming that the Opposition Janatha Vimukthi Peramunawas (JVP) party was behind the violence in the country, Fernando said that this “thug politics” should not be allowed and called on the people to end the violence.
He said that the government will continue to work to address the issues faced by the public at present, the Colombo Page portal reported.
The Government also defended the President’s decision to enforce a state of emergency, that had given him sweeping authority to act in the interests of public security and preserving public order, including suspending any laws, authorising detentions and seizing property, saying it was declared after attempts were made to attack the President’s Office and other public property.
Rajapaksa had declared the emergency last week after protesters demonstrated near his home in Colombo. The protests initially began over shortages of essentials such as cooking gas, petrol, electricity and milk powder, but now have spread across the island nation and the demonstrators are demanding the resignation of Rajapaksa and his government.
The President late Tuesday night revoked the emergency after huge public protests demanded his resignation.
The president and his older brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, continue to hold power in Sri Lanka, despite their politically powerful family being the focus of public ire.
On Tuesday, a verbal clash took place in Parliament between ruling party and Opposition members when they held a debate over the current crisis in Sri Lanka.
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena was forced to suspend sittings twice as a result of a heated situation which arose in Parliament.
The main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) also held placards in Parliament during the debate.
The Opposition questioned the state of emergency enforced and later lifted by the President and also insisted that the President steps down.
Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Office on Tuesday said it is closely following developments in Sri Lanka and urged the authorities to engage in a meaningful dialogue with political parties and civil society to find a solution to the deepening economic crisis, the Colombo Page reported.
President Rajapaksa is still struggling to appoint a Cabinet as none of the political parties responded positively to his offer to form a unity government to tackle the crisis.
He appointed just four ministers and one of them, the new finance minister, resigned after less than 24 hours in the job.
The Ministry of Finance is without a minister and its top bureaucrat with the resignation of the incumbent S R Attygalle.
The forex crisis had also hit the Foreign Service. The foreign ministry said that it was closing the Sri Lankan missions in Oslo and Baghdad while shutting the consulate in Sydney.
Following the 2019 Sri Lankan elections, the Rajapaksa family kept several portfolios in the government under their control.
While President Rajapaksa holds the all-powerful executive presidency, his elder brother Mahinda, who is a former president, is the current prime minister. Basil held the finance ministry and Mahinda’s son Namal, the heir apparent, was the minister of youth and sports.