2 December, 2023


President Wickremesinghe, The Current Pohottuwa Government & The Way Forward – A Call From Citizens

The Presidential election held on 20th July placed Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe in the office of 8th Executive President of Sri Lanka by votes in Parliament. Media publicized the idea that this was the fulfillment of a personal dream of a politician with a Parliamentary career of 45 years. Surprisingly, his first official visit after taking oaths on 21st July was to meet the Armed Forces Chiefs at Defence Headquarters, creating a reasonable fear of use of force in the exercise of political power. And what happened in the early hours of the 22nd July?

Citizens watched in stunned disbelief as they witnessed the brutal military attack against protestors including media and lawyers  in GotaGoGama on Galle Face Green. The protestors had made it clear by their words and actions that they were clearing the site. We join others in condemning this obviously well-planned attack which is not only a blatant violation of the right to peaceful assembly and association of the protestors, but also of the democratic rights of all the people of Sri Lanka. We hold the administration of President Ranil Wickramasinghe who had just been sworn into office, and the military authorities, responsible for this violation of the Constitutional rights of the people and international human rights commitments of Sri Lanka.   We demand disciplinary inquiries and appropriate measures against those responsible for these events. We call upon the President to pledge in an address to the nation, that this will not happen again, and that there will be no further interference with the People exercising their rights of peaceful political protest.

A powerful peoples’ protest resulted in the elimination of the Rajapaksa family from leadership in government, amidst serious allegations of corruption and misuse of power. This encouraged a public expectation  that Parliament would elect a person as President who was not connected to this family to fill the vacancy of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. They believed that the new President would lead an all party interim government for a very short time till a General Election is held as this was the general demand in the country. However, 134 MPs voted to confirm Mr. Wickremesinghe as President on 20th July, and also to protect their seats in Parliament. The voting has confirmed the view of the People  that these MPs are concerned only with their petty  personal and political agendas and have absolutely no intention of heeding the voice of the People for a change in both leadership and accountability in governance.

Ranil Wickremesinghe’s own election as President is unique in a system of Parliamentary democracy. He is a person who lost his long-term constituency due to serious allegations of involvement in the Central Bank bond scam and poor leadership. Although his election was procedurally valid and constitutional, it reinforced public perceptions that a dysfunctional Parliament was continuing in office. Rhetoric on the preservation of Parliamentary democracy, Constitutionalism and the national interest has not removed the lack of public trust in the government. Worse, there are grave allegations of bribery and corruption in voting, because of the actions of some persons within and outside Parliament, as late as the day before the election, resulting in the 113 votes pledged for the consensus opposition candidate not being cast for him. It is clear to the public that ugly political deals were made in this Presidential election, when the recovery of the country demands personal integrity, and commitment to national interest, from MPs.

President Wickremesinghe’s “new Cabinet” was sworn in on 22nd July. It was the very day on which there was a shocking military attack on peaceful protestors. Astoundingly, the new Prime Minister, Dinesh Gunewardena, when questioned by journalists on this event stated that the government was fulfilling its law and order obligations. It is very clear that the Pohottuwa government’s swearing in of four Cabinets in four months has not in any way changed their understanding of the People’s demands for democratic and accountable governance.

The new President’s call for unity in responding to our devastating national predicament and for systemic institutional change seems a hollow promise in light of the political realities of this government.

Therefore we demand of the President that he addresses immediately the following immediate public concerns:

1. The need for a General Election within the next six months. It is impossible to initiate economic recovery without political stability and a government recognized by the People. We must find the resources to fulfill this important public need and explore all options available to do so.

2. The urgency of abolishing the Executive Presidency. The shocking incidents of 22nd July demonstrate once again the urgent need to do away with the Executive Presidency with its over focus on a single, all powerful individual in governance. The President has the right to refer an issue of national importance for the views of the People at a Referendum under Article 86 of the Constitution. President Wickremesinghe has endorsed this change many times in his political career, including in 2018-2019. He must therefore call for a Referendum on this issue and lead the current government in obtaining a 2/3 majority to realise the result of such a Referendum.

3. The critical importance of upholding fundamental rights of the People as the foundation for democratic governance. Limitations on such rights must be strictly within the law and Article 15 of the Constitution and the President cannot act outside those limitations. As Commander in Chief he cannot permit or authorize abuse of power by the armed forces or law enforcement agencies on the grounds of national security or threat of anarchy. The negative international publicity for the events of the 22nd July demonstrate that the violation of the Peoples’ rights will destroy our international image and prospects of getting broad based international support for economic recovery.

The President and government must realise that the People will no longer accept meaningless rhetoric on a national consensus and unity in resolving the political and economic crisis of this time. National unity is critical if we are to cope with the challenges of an economic recovery but it will not come through governance based on illegal use of force and suppression of protest and through the usual political lies and broken promises made to the People.

We wish to remind the President, Cabinet, and Members of Parliament that they are only repositories of our sovereign powers and are duty bound to serve us diligently, efficiently and by fulfilling the public trust placed in them.

  1. Ranil Abayasekara – Senior Lecturer, University of Peradeniya (retired)
  2. K Nihal Ahamed – Human Rights and Environmental Activist
  3. Geoffrey Alagaratnam – President’s Counsel
  4. D. C. Ambalavanar, Visiting Lecturer in Surgery, University of Jaffna
  5. Arjuna Aluvihare – Emeritus Professor of Surgery and Vice Chancellor, Peradeniya, one time UGC Chairman
  6. Darshan Ambalavanar – Director, Theological Education, CACM (Church of the American Ceylon Mission)
  7. Annaluxumy – Social Activist
  8. Safarich Anfaz – Artist
  9. Roshan Arrupre – College Principal Batticoloa
  10. Rajan Asirwatham – Former Country Head and Precedent Partner KPMG
  11. Safana Gul Begum – Attorney-at-Law
  12. Bisliya Bhutto -Former Member of Puttalam Pradeshiya Sabha
  13. Yohesan Casie Chetty – Attorney – at – Law & former Headmaster S. Thomas’ Preparatory School Kollupitiya.
  14. Galkande Dhammananda Thero
  15. Bishop Duleep  de Chickera
  16. Ruwanthie de Chickera – Artists of the Peoples’ Movement
  17. Harendra de Silva – Consultant Paediatrician
  18. Marisa de Silva
  19. Anushaya Collure – Activist
  20. Radhika Coomaraswamy – Retired International Civil Servant
  21. Andrew Devadason – Clergy,  Anglican Church, Diocese of Colombo
  22. Niroshan de Mel – Vicar, St. Michael & All Angels, Polwatta. Area Dean, Colombo South Area Deanery.
  23. Priyan Dias – Emeritus Professor, University of Moratuwa
  24. Shanthi Dias
  25. C.C.Elankovan – Attorney-at-Law and Development Consultant
  26. K J Brito Fernando – Human Rights Activist
  27. Priyanthi Fernando – Former Executive Director, Centre for Poverty Analysis
  28. Shiekh MBM Firthous – Chairman, Bismi Institute
  29. Aneesa Firthous – Human Rights Activist
  30. Bhavani Fonseka – Attorney-at-Law and Rights Activist
  31. C Ranitha Gnanarajah – Attorney-at-Law
  32. Mario Gomez – Attorney-at-Law
  33. Shyamala Gomez – Executive Director, Centre for Equality and Justice
  34. Savitri Goonesekere – Emeritus Professor of Law and Former Vice Chancellor, University of Colombo
  35. Camena Guneratne – Professor, Open University of Sri Lanka
  36. Dileni Gunewardena – Professor of Economics, University of Peradeniya
  37. Pulasthi Hewamanne – Attorney-at-Law
  38. S Ratnajeevan H Hoole – Prof. of Electrical Engineering (Rtd) and former Member of the Election Commission
  39. Ameena Hussein – Writer
  40. Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe
  41. Deekshaya Illangasinghe – Activist
  42. Fathima Nabeela Iqbal – Peacebuilder, Sisterhood Initiative
  43. Chandra Jayaratne – former Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce
  44. Rohana Jayaratne – Economist.
  45. Tissa Jayatilaka- Retired Academic and Academic Administrator.
  46. Sakuntala Kadirgamar – Executive Director, Law and Society Trust
  47. Pavithra Kailasapathy – Professor, University of Colombo
  48. Thiru Kandiah – Retired University Academic
  49. Chulani Kodikara – Co-Editor “Polity”
  50. Sepali Kottegoda
  51. Herman Kumara – National Fisheries Solidarity Movement
  52. Mahaluxmy Kurushanthan – Women’s Rights Activist
  53. Lawrence  – Parish priest, Batticoloa
  54. Jansila Majeed – Women’s Rights Activist
  55. Bennette Mellawa – Director CARITAS Anuradhapura
  56. Farah Mihlar – Senior Lecturer
  57. Buhary Mohamed – Human Rights Activist
  58. Juwairya Mohideen – Women’s Rights Activist
  59. P Muthulingam – Executive Director, Institute of Social Development
  60. Ramani Muttetuwegama – Attorney-at-Law
  61. Rohini Nanayakkara – Former General Manager, Bank of Ceylon and Chairperson LOLC
  62. M. Navaratna Bandara – Professor, University of Peradeniya (retired)
  63. Gananath Obeyesekere- Prof. Emeritus,  Princeton University, USA,
  64. Ranjini Obeyesekere-  Retired Prof. Princeton University, USA
  65. Nalinika Obeyesekere – Veterinary Surgeon, Colombo
  66. Arjuna Parakrama – Professor, University of Peradeniya
  67. Sasanka Perera, Professor of Sociology, South Asian University, New Delhi
  68. Sumika Perera Co-ordinator, Women’s’ Resource Centre
  69. Suren D Perera – Attorney-at-Law
  70. Pethiyagoda – Agronomist, Former Ambasador to Italy,
  71. Chryso Pieris  – Centre for Reconciliation and Development
  72. Dr. Jayasiri T Peiris.
  73. Brother Lionel Peiris – Society of St. Francis
  74. Sydney Peiris
  75. Mirak Raheem – Researcher and Activist
  76. PM Mujibur Rahman – LL.B
  77. Dr Ramesh Ramasamy – University of Peradeniya
  78. K S Ratnavale – Attorney at Law
  79. Sheila Richards
  80. Mahbooba Rifaideen – Attorney-at-Law
  81. Rosairo S J – .  Chaplin Home for the Elders,
  82. Sahayanathan – Superior of Batticaloa Jesuits,
  83. Gameela Samarasinghe – Professor, University of Colombo
  84. Jeanne Samuel
  85. Shreen Saroor – Human Rights Activist
  86. Paul Satkunanayagam- Counseling Centre Director,
  87. Kalana Senaratne – University of Peradeniya
  88. H.Sheriffdeen – Emeritus Professor of Surgery, University of Colombo.
  89. Vanie Simon – Women’s Rights Activist
  90. Kalani Subasinghe
  91. S Sumithra – Human Rights Activist
  92. Sujeewa  – Provincial Jesuits Sri Lanka
  93. James Suresh – Director ETI, Batticoloa
  94. Sirany Thevakumar – Community Activist
  95. Mahendran Thiruvarangan – University of Jaffna
  96. Sandun Thudugala – Director Programmes and Operations, Law and Society Trust
  97. Deepika Udagama -Professor of Law, University of Peradeniya and former Chairperson Human Rights Commission
  98. Jayadeva Uyangoda – Professor Emeritus, University of Colombo
  99. C.Visvalingam – former President, Citizens Movement for Good Governance
  100. M A Wahid – Youth Activist
  101. Ruvan Weerasinghe – University of Colombo.
  102. D Wijayanandana
  103. Jayanta de S Wijeratne
  104. Gamini Wijeyesinghe
  105. Senior Superintendent of Police (ret) and United Nations International Civil Servant UN International War Crimes Tribunal, The Hague, The Netherlands.
  106. Affected Women’s Forum
  107. Alliance for Minorities
  108. Centre for Human Rights and Development
  109. Centre for Social Concerns, Jaela
  110. Eastern Social Development Foundation
  111. Families of the Disappeared
  112. Human Elevation Organisation
  113. International Centre for Ethnic Studies
  114. Mannar Women’s Development Federation
  115. Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum
  116. Muslim Women’s Development Trust
  117. Rural Development Foundation
  118. Star Rural Women’s Society
  119. Women’s Action Network
  120. Women and Media Collective
  121. Women’s Voice Movement
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Latest comments

  • 3

    Oh Come on, Why give him 6 months?! So Bondscam Ranil who is responsible for the biggest Financial Crime in Sri Lanka in 2015 at the Central Bank and is a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) for the Great Rest can First deliver the country into the IMF and Washington’s hands?!! This is rather a joke! Ranil must RESIGN NOW!
    Why do these folks not talk about the famous IMF talks for which RW was brought in by his Western, NATO, QUAD US-backers in a Regime Change operation and the need for Debt CANCELLATION?!
    RW has NO Legitimacy to negotiate deals with the IMF which works for the Global 1 percent and bails out Vulture Funds like BlackRock while pretending to bail out the citizens of countries whose corrupt leaders like Ranil Rajapakse amass Odious Debt and force poor people to pay up?!!

  • 3

    Dear President Ranil Wickremasinghe,
    As all these proessionals of Sri Lanka requested it is time for you to proof that you are a Sri Lankan citizen who loves this country and people more than you, your family, your political party and executive power. Rightly or wrongly you have achieved your personal dream of becoming executive president and I am sure that there is no barrier for you to show or proof your commitment to your country and your people. At this moment of time you have to proof first that people are with you in the struggle for bring peace, unity, and political and economic stability. Your current position is not you earned using your hard work as former Prime Minister. It was given to you by former President and former Prime Minister and former SLPP members and the protestors and not by the people. If you are a real human being and I am sure you are mentally and physically sound and you know that the current executive President is undemocratic and unethical. So, Can you please tell the people openly that I am happy to have a presidental and parliament elections within six months. If you can proof yourself as a leader wanted by people then that is your wish to continue.

  • 5

    The country is bankrupt today because of the bankruptcy of the politicians who lead the country for 74 years: The irony is to expect change in character of governance from these same old politicians playing dramas in the parliament.

    Democracy that we inherited from the colonialist is only benefiting the ruling elite.

    This must change as the present Struggle (Aragalaya) demands. The question is whether the present rulers and the geopolitical manipulators will hinder such a change for the betterment of the people? God only knows.

  • 5

    Dear Distinguished leaders:
    (1) An election in six months – great idea, since the economy will have improved much by then.
    (2) Abolishing the executive presidency may be a good idea, but I need to remind everyone here what the Prime Minsters of the past did with their powers. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike (Sinhala Only), Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandranaike (Suppression of 1970 insurrection) , and our personal favorite, Prime Minister J.R. Jayawardene (no further elaboration required). If you can tell me these leaders used their power properly, then I am in favor.
    (3) The upholding of critical rights – I will take those who talk about upholding the rights of all Sri Lankans seriously when they uphold the right of former president Gotabaya Rajapakse the right to live in Sri Lanka …how does the constitution put it?
    (Chapter III, 14)
    (h) the freedom of movement and of
    choosing his residence within Sri Lanka ; and
    (i) the freedom to return to Sri Lanka.

    • 1

      I second all your proposals.
      However, I have doubts whether the coward Gota will return, even if allowed to, unless he wants to reside in a bunker in Trinco for thr rest of his life.

      • 1

        What my Maldivian friend (known now for 62 years), who is currently in his house on Hulhumalé, tells me is that the people don’t want Gota to return to the Maldives.
        One way or another I know the situation in the Maldives pretty well, although I haven’t been to those exquisite coral islands since I left in 1994. In fact, at that time the island of Hulhumalé didn’t even exist.
        It was possible for me to write the above article only because my friend briefed me. He has to keep a low profile there. You cannot begin to understand that because you’re not in email contact with me. Related to all that is Hoole’s report:
        I think that you are aware that when I say that I KNOW something, I can be relied on. I’m disappointed with Anni Nasheed helping Gota – but the people will have none of it.

      • 0

        Why should he be in a bunker? If LTTE cadres were rehabilitated and could roam about freely why shouldn’t he? I have to object to calling Gotabaya Rajapaka a coward, in fact, ‘discretion is the better part of valor’

        Abiding by the same constitution which I suport, however, I cannot justify protecting anyone who has committed crimes. Anyone knowingly violating the constitution and harming lives, either by authorizing the beating up of protesters (violence) has to realize that the law will catch up to them some time. If the law is a tortoise don’t blame them for it. The COPE is already investigating the reasons for the crisis. Justice is not perfect, except in religious doctrine that claim is made: karma, judgement day, what have you.
        The change in political culture has to come about through friendly dialog not adverserial politics. Those of us who can discuss things calmly can be an example and create a change.
        When the people of Sri Lanka decide that they want a co-operative civilized political discourse, the first sign would be the deletion of all the hate speech on the social media, which is actually anti-social media. We cannot have an election without violence. Why?

    • 3

      Rear end Guard, (i) Yes he should have the freedom to return but (h) he should be in prison where there is no freedom of movement and choosing his residence. If you thought he should be pardoned just like Duminda then he he better stay out of country. Gotha personally took away the rights of many, chased many journalist out of country, made millions into refugees, displaced communities from their choice of residence , denial burial rights after death and you want to uphold his critical rights??. Past PM ‘s did abuse their power with the help of cabinet, MP’s and party supporters. Does it make a sociopath as President, a better choice.?? Keep dreaming that in 6 months, economy will have improved by much then. (just curious how did to manage to get the name of largest investment company VANGUARD , with the knowledge you have?)

      • 2

        I’d be happy to see the guy imprisoned, but what we really want is all the loot returned. I know that to be a forlorn hope. Most of it must be hidden away, in somebody else’s name.
        Jim Hawkins and Treasure Island are tales of antiquity.
        I can’t see this island returning to anything like prosperity for at least five years, whoever replaces Ranil Rajapaksa – the guy surely will not be able to last much more than six months. How these villains will fall, I don’t pretend to know.
        But fall they will.
        I don’t know about God existing, but I intuitively know this:
        “Though the mills of God grind slowly; Yet they grind exceeding small.”
        Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela

      • 0

        I think every President in this country has been accused as wrongdoing and has been condemned in the public eye. We need to get better presidents, if that is the case. I have no objection.
        Indian Prime Minister Modi is a good candidate, maybe he should run the show for a while. Assumed office 26 May 2014

  • 3

    “dysfunctional Parliament was continuing in office”
    This is the view of the General Public BUT not in the eyes of these corrupted Parliamentarians who are really PARASITES on SL CITIZENS.
    We need a new constitution that has been passed by public referendum asap.
    The Election Commission should have eminent people in it. They should accept nominations ONLY from uncorrupted SL citizens WHO HAVE DECLARED THEIR ASSETS.
    Once the new constitution in place the Parliament should be dissolved.

  • 5

    Ranil is losing it. The only asset he had which many of his rivals dont is ‘”wheeling and dealing” not just domestic but international arena. Now he is behaving like a typical old grumpy man. For a change it’s heart warming to see every act of govt violence is immediately confronted by donors. IMF warned , without domestic stability forget loan. Japan threatened with suspending all financial aid . It’s unlike of Ranil , to snap, and get angry at concerned diplomats . Started presidency on a wrong footing just like Gotha. My predictions are his will be yet another short stay. He ofcourse has promised the impossible, to solve longstanding economic and racial issues , for which he too is responsible.

  • 3

    You mean these are not already happening? I thought Ranil and Dinesh were going to install all of these things as it was the whole purpose of why Gota was kicked out – the sole purpose of why R&D came about! But their current status gives Proof that they are STILL force-working the Rajapaksa deals of money in alternate ventures around the world.

    The 121 signatories should gather 1,000 supporters to storm (peacefully) the same governments-of-the people buildings, and also Parliament, to ensure the correct procedures are carried out. The most important of these being the general elections in 6 months’ time! Give it a month to see if things change. Of course if R&D can get 5-10 billion USD from IMF and other places, all will be forgiven.

  • 3

    Ranil W needs to act now to get—-
    1) National Unity
    2) cases against the corrupted ones
    3) An Independent Audit commission in order to use government funds efficiently
    4) diaspora to get involved with development activities in the country. Give the Diaspora and their children SL citizenships
    5)the Ill-gotten Money of the politicians and their acolytes from local or foreign accounts

  • 3

    Regarding this call from named citizens, there are millions of other unnamed citizens who want this executive presidency with autocratic behavior abolished as fast as possible from this nation. Family government failed miserably due to robbing of the wealth of this nation and associated lying about it, leaving nothing in the treasury to provide for citizens leading them in all lack. The aragalaya surfaced due to this lack. Elections must be held within 6 months to bring in some honest leaders to whom wealthy nations will give aid. The self interested 225 wish to continue long with no thoughts of serving the citizens. The money must be legally recovered before baba is projected for more robbery, having done no service to nation. Block robbers by unified governing nation. How long should citizens suffer with their money hidden in morally twisted accounts.

  • 3

    It is very necessary that this government should function only as an interim administration, and hold elections ASAP.
    However legally and constitutionally valid the election of Ranil Wickremasinghe as President may have been, it is as unfair and reprehensible as has been said. Amending constitutions and the like are not for these rulers who have forfeited the support of the people.
    It is for totally selfish reasons, such as qualifying for pensions, that the SLPP MPs to have voted for a man obsessed with continuing with this Parliament for the maximum possible period. A secret ballot is normally welcome, but not what we saw last week. Interesting to see how the MPs vote for extending the State of Emergency where we, the people will know who has voted servilely.
    All citizens know that elections are a waste of money, but in this instance, delaying elections will lead to even greater damage to the economy. The country is at a standstill; production has ground to a halt. Defiance of the government is inevitable. These are not polite requests; they have to be demands as strident as we can make them.
    Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V) of Bandarawela

  • 2

    People go out and educate the people and guide them to select the best person to vote for. These 225+ 1 must go. Until that no hope. Call for an election ASAP. There is no new cabinet. This is all the same criminals getting recycled. Good luck.

  • 3

    4 Cabinets in 4 Months…………
    What better proof is necessary to declare that Srilanka is a Land Like No other………
    President Ranil.W. quoted Winston Churchill upon becoming the acting President.
    He can now quote Lincoln in his own style…….

    Government of the Rajapaksas, by the Rajapaksas for the Rajapaksas
    After all Ranil.W. IS THE CARETAKER.

  • 3

    “Astoundingly, the new Prime Minister, Dinesh Gunewardena, when questioned by journalists on this event stated that the government was fulfilling its law and order obligations.”

    Haha, this guy is a big joker! I must say that he and his cohorts have always been fulfilling the government’s law and order obligations in a very selective and lopsided manner. What a monumental hypocrite he is!

    The whole world knows about the SLPP’s brand of Law and Order!

  • 0

    None of the intellectuals have suggested patience and religious virtues I suppose that is too much.

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