The protest, organized by the Youth Wing of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) led by MP Namal Rajapaksa, agitated against the proposed ‘separatist constitution,’ selling of national assets, protecting those accused in the Central Bank bond scam, the exacting of political revenge, attacks on the Buddhist clergy, imprisonment of ‘war heroes’ and imposition of new taxes, and drew crowds from all parts of the country.
The event was headlined by the presence of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa as well as all JO parliamentarians including those from the National Freedom Front and Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, SLPP representatives of local government bodies, and the ‘Group of 16’ who recently reneged from the government. Another notable attendee was the former president’s brother Gotabhaya Rajapaks, a man touted to be the presidential candidate of the SLPP.
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa stated that the demand was for a better and effective government which will also ensure national security. He endorsed the leadership of his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa and laughed off leading questions regarding his political future.
The crowds filled all roads leading to the Lake House roundabout once the location was announced a little after 3 pm.
Spokespersons of the SLPP pointed out that the government had gone to great lengths to thwart the demonstration. A bus allegedly carrying persons planning to attend the demonstration was attacked in Badulla, which road construction work had been suddenly commenced in Nittambuwa causing heavy traffic and long delays along the Kandy-Colombo Road, a main artery along which crowds were to arrive from the Central and North Western Provinces.
Anticipating unruly behavior, security was tightened at Temple Trees, the President’s House and the Court Complex. The organizers however insisted that it was to be a peaceful demonstration.
Milinda Rajapaksha, CMC Member (SLPP) and spokesperson of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, tweeted at 7.30 pm that a ‘sathyakriyawa’ will be held at the Lake House roundabout. Mahinda Rajapaksa, addressing the crowds said that the protest will continue until tomorrow morning.