- Cardinal leads protest demanding urgent solution to crisis
BY Buddhika Samaraweera
Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and the Catholic clergy marched from near the Archbishop’s house to the Borella Junction yesterday (5), demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and an urgent solution to the national crisis.
Speaking to the media during the protest march, Archdiocese of Colombo Social Communications Director Rev. Jude Chrishantha Fernando said that the Catholic church, including the Archbishop, had decided to organise the protest march with the aim of strengthening the voices of the people that are being raised around the country.
“Some in the Government claim that they still have a mandate, but we would like to remind them that the mandate has now been revoked as they failed to protect that mandate. It is the 6.9 million people who voted for them who are taking to the streets today and asking President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the Government to go home. So now they must resign,” he said.
The protest march started at around 10 a.m. yesterday and the Catholic clergy marched from near the Archbishop’s house to the Borella Junction via Kynsey Road and then back to the Archbishop’s house. During the march, Catholic priests were seen carrying placards that read “Leaders, wake up!”, “Listen to the voice of the people”, “Repression is a grave sin”, “Enough deception”, “Ensure the rule of law”, and “No one is safe until everyone is safe”.
Referring to the recent statement made by President Rajapaksa that the current crisis in the country was not created by him, Fr. Fernando said that the crisis was not created by anyone else, but by the President himself.
“We would like to explain to the President as to how he created this crisis. Especially in the recent past, when the farmers were agitating for fertiliser, the President was not sensitive to those demands. He and the Government also created an environment for various individuals to sell local resources and earn commissions. In addition, they did not allow justice to be done to the victims of the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 21 April 2019 and instead, they released the attackers. So it was the President himself who created this crisis,” he added.
Claiming that the appointment of a new Cabinet of Ministers is not an acceptable solution to the prevailing crisis situation, the Catholic church emphasised on Monday (4) that President Rajapaksa, heeding the public opinion, should resign, thereby giving the people the opportunity to appoint a new leader and a Government. Speaking to The Morning on that day, Fr. Fernando said: “What the people have been saying is that the current President and the Government should resign. Therefore, the resignation of the Cabinet will not resolve this crisis. If the people say that the President should resign, they must then be given the opportunity to elect a new leader and Government.”