CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 1 December 2018

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Call to end political standoff in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO (UCAN): Sri Lanka’s religious leaders appealed for an end to the bitter political crisis that is threatening the island nation’s democracy.
 
Bishop Winston Fernando of Badulla, and Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith of Colombo, together the Venerable Ittepane Dhammalankara Thero and the Venerable Kotugoda Dhamawasa Thero, released a statement on November 23 calling on Sri Lankan lawmakers to resolve a constitutional crisis centred on Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mahinda Rajapaksa, who both lay claim to being the country’s lawful prime minister.
 
“Every one of you secured the people’s mandate to enter the house of parliament with an assurance of sustaining good governance solely for the development and welfare of the people,” the religious leaders told the legislators.
 
“It is your collective responsibility not to betray this ennobled mandate but to find solutions to the problems faced by the people, they said.
 
They urged members of parliament “to take meaningful steps to ensure that supremacy of the rule of law, peace and harmony prevail within the country whilst safeguarding and nurturing the democratic principles of governance much desired by us.”
 
The political crisis erupted unexpectedly on October 26 when the president, Maithripala Sirisena, sacked his coalition partner, the then-prime minister, Wickremesinghe.
 
Sirisena, ]claimed that both he and former defense secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, were targets of an assassination attempt by one of Wickremesinghe’s cabinet ministers.
 
Sirisena then appointed former president, Rajapaksa, as prime minister. The former strongman was the rival candidate for the presidency in the country’s last general election three years ago.
 
Rajapaksa has been unable to show he has majority support in parliament to legitimately take his new position as prime minister. On two recent occasions 122 of 225 parliamentarians backed no-confidence votes against Rajapaksa.
 
Sirisena has refused to accept that he has lost his gambit and that the country’s political system is in deadlock. The crisis has resulted in the local currency plunging in value, further affecting an already a debt-laden economy.

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