Sri Lanka PM Wickremesinghe laments attack on home, vows to safeguard constitution
Sri Lanka PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the country needs an “all-party government” and has to “work” for the same amid the continuing financial crisis.
Even as protests in Sri Lanka continue amid a massive financial crisis, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Monday that he is there to “safeguard” the constitution and that “no one can dictate Parliament from outside”.
In a special statement, according to Colombo-based Daily Mirror, Wickremesinghe said the country requires an “all-party government” and has to “work for it”.
“I will safeguard the constitution. No one can go beyond it and no one can force or dictate Parliament from outside. I am here to safeguard the constitution, one must listen to the people but should act in accordance with the constitution. Sri Lanka needs an all-party government. We have to work for it,” he was quoted as saying.
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The Prime Minister also expressed grief over protesters entering his private residence on Saturday and setting it on fire, adding that the incident was a result of provocation by a false message on social media.
“I was at home that afternoon following some meetings when the police advised me to leave my private residence as some of those who were returning from the protests happened to pass my home. I therefore left my residence with my wife. My residence was burnt and I have lost some valuable goods I had,” Wickremesinghe said.
Besides valuable books, he added that some important paintings done by the British “soon after they occupied Sri Lanka” were burnt down.
“There was one painting of King Wimaladharmasuriya meeting a Dutch Ambassador. Maithree (his wife) and I decided to donate those valuable books to Royal College, Peradeniya University and other institutions. There was a background to the attack,” Wickremesinghe added.
A sea of protesters stormed into Wickremesinghe's private residence on Saturday and set it ablaze. The incident occurred hours after the Prime Minister said he would resign after party leaders in Parliament demanded the same.
On Saturday, protesters also barged into the official residence of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and turned the place into a virtual picnic spot. Visuals from the venue showed protesters touring the stately mansion, playing carrom, chilling in the swimming pool and even sleeping on Rajapaksa's bed.
Parliamentary speaker Mahinda Abeywardana in a televised message on Saturday said the President will resign on July 13.
Earlier in the day, Sri Lankan minister Prasanna Ranatunga said party leaders have decided to elect the country's new president on July 20, given Rajapaksa indeed steps down on the stipulated date.
Rajapaksa's whereabouts remain unknown, and the topic caught fresh attention earlier in the day when Abeywardena first said the President had fled the country, and then took back his statement.
Earlier, official sources told news agency AFP that Rajapaksa escaped the presidential palace through a back door under escort from naval personnel and was taken away by boat, heading to the northeast corner of Sri Lanka.
(With agency inputs)