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Bishop of Colombo concerned about removal of Prime Minister and dissolution of Parliament

Posted on: November 16, 2018 4:49 PM
The Bishop of Colombo, Dhiloraj Canagasabey, has spoken out about Sri Lank's constitutional crisis
Photo Credit: Diocese of Colombo

The Bishop of Colombo, Dhiloraj Canagasabey, has responded “with shock and great dismay” to the “arbitrary” removal of Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister and the dissolution of the country’s Parliament. President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe three weeks ago, replacing him with Mahinda Rajapaksa. He then suspended Parliament for two weeks – it resumed sitting on Monday – and also announced that it would be dissolved from midnight tonight (Friday). But that decision was suspended by the country’s Supreme Court after supporters of the deposed Prime Minister sought a judicial review.

Over the past two days, the sittings have been disrupted by clashes between MPs. Security staff and police broke up scuffles today in which chilli powder was thrown.

Writing on behalf of the Diocese of Colombo, Bishop Dhiloraj described the President’s actions as “arbitrary” and said that it “appears to us to be a direct and blatant violation of the clear and express provisions of the Constitution”.

He said: “the dismissal of a sitting Prime Minister, the appointment of a new Prime Minister, the prorogation of Parliament by the President followed by credible accounts of inducements to MPs to crossover and the shifting stories about the premiership being offered to other members of Parliament are further compounded by this latest action of the President underscoring the fact that the newly appointed Prime Minister did not command the confidence of Parliament.

“All these events showcase the sad depths to which ethical and moral standards have deteriorated in this country, despite our external show of religiosity.”

He continued: “The intellectual dishonesty and moral bankruptcy of many of our politicians and especially that of senior politicians of the two major parties is a terrible indictment on the quality of leadership that we have produced in post independent Sri Lanka.

“The events of the past weeks have been utterly shameful and sullied the name of our country internationally. At a time of economic difficulty, the administration has been further paralysed and the attention of the country diverted to shallow politicking.”

He said that the Diocese of Colombo was “calling on all our members to uphold the country in prayer, seeking God’s mercy, guidance and direction [and] affirms our belief that righteousness, justice and truth will ultimately triumph.”

“We call on the President once again to rise above seeking petty political advantages and to abide by the very solemn promises he made on more than one occasion to uphold the rule of law, good governance and to respect the true spirit of democracy as well as his obligation to ensure that the Constitution is respected and upheld.”