By Chandani Kirinde
A breakaway group from the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday joined other parties in Parliament, calling on the Government to step down immediately while warning that a delay in doing so could lead to violence as public anger over increasing shortages and rising costs worsen each day.
Former President Maithripala Sirisena who, along with a group of 40 SLFP MPs, 11-party alliance and SLPP MPs, sat in Opposition said people have lost faith in the Government and appointing new members to the Cabinet will not restore faith in them.
“The demand from the public is for the entire Government to step down and a new administration in which people have confidence in be set up. Then we can find solutions to the problems people face. The Government has failed in its two years in office, and we join people in demanding the Government’s resignation,” Sirisena said.
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa too said that the President and the Government must go home. “The voice of the people on the streets is reverberating in the House today. We welcome all progressive forces that have chosen to sit in the Opposition, and we will join hands with them to find solutions to the people’s problems,” he said.
National People Power MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the ongoing economic problems have been created by the wrong policies of the Government and not due to any wrong doing by the Opposition.
“These mistakes are not comparable to a minor traffic offence while driving or breaking a plate. The entire agriculture sector has collapsed due to the fertiliser ban. We repeatedly warned the Government not to print money, but our warnings were ignored. These are deadly mistakes, and the only option is for the persons who created these problems to leave,” he said.
MP Wimal Weerawansa who was among the MPs who sat in Opposition yesterday said that he and a few others had spoken up in Cabinet against wrong policy decisions, but their warnings were not heeded.
“Please accept the reality of the situation in the country at least now. If you allow this to go beyond this point, things can turn violent. The entire Government including the Prime Minister must step down and make room for an interim Government. Otherwise, you will all have to bear the responsibility of what will follow due to the anger of the people,” he said.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who made a statement to the House said Government has initiated discussions with the IMF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other multilateral agencies as well as friendly countries and consulted international legal experts to restructure the country’s debate and bring about economic stability.
“Our responsibility at this moment is to find a lasting solution for this issue while applying short-term measures to give relief to the people,” he said.