Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe Officially Prohibits the use of ‘His Excellency’ or Her Excellency”to introduce the President ; also abolishes the separate presidential flag saying Country should have only the National flag.

Newly appointed Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday reiterated that he will protect the Constitution and will not allow any group to destroy democracy in Parliament.

“We are obliged to uphold democracy. I am bound to protect the Constitution. I will never allow anything unconstitutional to take place in our country. I am not working outside the Constitution,” Wickremesinghe said during an address to the nation soon after assuming office.

He also urged all political parties to set aside differences and come together for the sake of the country.

He told politicians to put aside their personal ambitions and put the needs of the country first. “Think about protecting the country rather than protecting individuals,” he added.

In his address Wickremesinghe also announced that he will fast track the full reimplementation of the 19th Amendment. He declared that the use of the word ‘His Excellency’ to introduce the President is officially prohibited and the presidential flag will be abolished.

“A country should have only one flag. Only the national flag. One should move forward under the shade of one flag,” pointed out Wickremesinghe.

“Meditate and think deeply about this situation we are facing today,” the Acting President said. “Now the background has been set for a new journey with a different approach to the whole country. The opportunities for creating a peaceful and prosperous society free from corruption have been set in place.

“The scope of raising our motherland has expanded. It is the duty and responsibility of all of us to make the most of it. Let us all give full strength and full support to start a new era and a new system,” Wickremesinghe emphasised.

Following is the full text of the Acting President’s speech.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has resigned from office. In accordance with the Constitution, the Parliament will meet next week and take steps to elect a new President.

In that short period of time, I have been entrusted with the responsibility of temporarily acting as the President. I hope to take some urgent steps in this short period of time.

The people of the country expect a change in the political system. An important factor for this change is the full implementation of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Therefore, I have started the program to bring forth the necessary drafts to the Parliament to fully re-implement the 19th Amendment.

Immediate steps will be taken to re-establish law and order in the country. I fully accept the right to peacefully protest, but others are now trying to sabotage these protests. It has been reported that outside groups are preparing to try and influence the Members of Parliament during the election of the new President in Parliament next week.

We must create the environment for MPs so that they can express their opinion independently. They will be provided with full protection. We will not allow any group to destroy democracy in Parliament.

Also, there are groups that are trying to set the country on fire through fascist methods by suppressing democracy. Two weapons belonging to the security forces along with bullets were stolen by such persons near Parliament.

24 members of the Army have been injured, two of them have been seriously injured today. It is my belief that real fighters do not do such acts. There is a big difference between rebels and protesters. Many people who have been involved in the struggle since the beginning have expressed their opposition to these acts of sabotage.

We are bound to ensure they are protected by law and order. We are obliged to uphold democracy.

I am bound to protect the Constitution. I will never allow anything unconstitutional to take place in our country. I am not working outside the Constitution. If law and order breaks down, it will affect our economy.

Like fuel, our electricity and water supply as well as our food supply can be disrupted. We all need to understand this dangerous situation.

In order to maintain law and order, I have appointed a special committee consisting of the Chief of the Defence Staff, the Inspector General of Police and the commanders of the three armed forces. They have been given full freedom to take legal action without any political interference.

We emphasised the Government’s position on the establishment of an all-party Government in the party leaders’ meeting held last Monday. I request all parties in the Parliament to reach a common agreement for that immediately. These political parties should put aside their differences and opinions and come together for the sake of the country.

So put aside your personal ambitions. Put the needs of the country first.

Think about protecting the country rather than protecting individuals. We must have a country to live and do politics. I request all political parties and groups to think about our country, and to think about the people of the country when they act. First, let’s save the country and the people from this current crisis. Then we can turn to party politics.

As Acting President, I will take two more decisions. The use of the word ‘His Excellency’ to introduce the President is officially prohibited. As well as the presidential flag will be abolished.

A country should have only one flag. Only the national flag. One should move forward under the shade of one flag.

Meditate and think deeply about this situation we are facing today. Now the background has been set for a new journey with a different approach to the whole country. The opportunities for creating a peaceful and prosperous society free from corruption have been set in place.

The scope of raising our motherland has expanded. It is the duty and responsibility of all of us to make the most of it.

Let us all give full strength and full support to start a new era and a new system.

Finally, I would like to mention one more thing.

About two months ago today, on 13 May I made a serious decision for the country. I took that serious decision thinking about the two million people of this country. Until the Parliament appoints a new President, that decision will be carried out for the country. I am constitutionally bound to carry out that decision.

Courtesy:Daily FT