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It's time to go, religious leaders tell Sri Lankan govt

'Shameless' politicians warned that protests will continue until they stand down

It's time to go, religious leaders tell Sri Lankan govt

University students speak with a police officer during a demonstration against the economic crisis near the parliament building in Colombo on May 4. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 05, 2022 01:56 AM GMT

Updated: May 05, 2022 05:37 PM GMT

Religious leaders have urged the Sri Lankan government to resign after the main opposition submitted two no-confidence motions against the government and the president.

Oblate Priest Father Rohan Silva, director of the Center for Society and Religion (CSR), said the people of the country want President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the government to quit.

"Get out of your seats and positions and bow to the sovereignty of the people," said Father Silva, a prominent human rights defender.

"If the president does not listen to the voice of the public, they will continue their fight against the president and the government. People will come to the streets for the demonstration on May 6 and the day when the struggle will end is not far off."

Anti-government protests erupted in Sri Lanka in early March as the worst economic crisis in decades unfolded.

Protesters accuse the government of mismanaging the economy and creating a foreign exchange crisis that has led to shortages of essentials.

"The whole of Sri Lanka is protesting against the corrupt leaders and the government to step down, but they are shameless"

Protesters have set up temporary camps with food, water and toilet facilities besides a makeshift medical facility in the open space opposite the presidential secretariat in Colombo. Many Christian priests and nuns have joined them.

Buddhist monks have warned that if the prime minister and the cabinet do not resign and an interim government is not formed, a Sangha Convention will be issued and all politicians will be rejected.

Ven. Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thera, one of the chief prelates, has decided not to allow any politicians to visit him.

The chief prelates of the three Buddhist chapters submitted to the president a set of proposals including the formation of an interim government.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo agreed with the views of the chief Buddhist prelates.

"It is unfortunate that the law of the country has been designed to be manipulated by the president and the prime minister. The law should be above them," he said on May 4.

"Responsible leaders of the country should learn to think and work for the country. That responsibility must be properly fulfilled. The people of the country have many problems. It is the responsibility of political leaders to provide solutions to these problems."

The main opposition party submitted two no-confidence motions against the government on May 4, blaming it for failing in its constitutional duty to provide a decent living standard.

The Free Media Movement (FMM) said the police have no power to violate the democratic right of the public to protest and the movement has taken the incidents very seriously.

According to media reports, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa may take a decision to step down, though that has been denied by government sources.

At the end of their fasting period, Muslims went to the protest site in Colombo on May 4 and shared a variety of food and beverages with protesters.

Protester Ruwan Niroshan, said the president, prime minister and other politicians are still greedy for power.

"The whole of Sri Lanka is protesting against the corrupt leaders and the government to step down, but they are shameless," he said.

Police arrested several people while they were engaging in a peaceful protest near the parliament building on the 26th day of protests.

The Free Media Movement (FMM) said the police have no power to violate the democratic right of the public to protest and the movement has taken the incidents very seriously.

"The government should refrain from any illegal activities against freedom of expression, focusing on two instances in which the police have arrested and intimidated activists protesting against the president, the prime minister and the current government," said Lasantha De Silva, convener of the FMM.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka said those who act in accordance with the legal right to protest cannot be arrested and that the right of the people to protest peacefully should be guaranteed.

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