“It is essential for the country that your govt wins the legitimacy of opposition support and is not seen as a Rajapaksa clone” – An Open Letter to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe From Krishantha Prasad Cooray

Dear Prime Minister,

As I watched you take oaths at the Presidential Secretariat, my mind was drawn to the last time you did so, on 16 December 2018, on day 52 of the 52-day coup plot that was mounted against Lankan democracy. On that Sunday morning, you were flanked by your wife, Dr. Maithri Wickremasinghe and several senior opposition MPs in what still feels like the finest hour in the history of our constitutional democracy.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

Several political parties rallied around you, putting the constitution before party politics and personal grievances. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that your side was the side of right, and the side of democracy.

On the three previous occasions when you took oaths as Prime Minister, you did so with a strong mandate, after conclusive electoral victories. Consequently, these swearing in ceremonies were celebrative affairs, accompanied by the air of hope your mandate deserved.

So, it was with a heavy heart I watched you being sworn in last week before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a dark, empty room. I imagined to myself how different it would have been if this sixth swearing in ceremony had better resembled your previous ones. There were no cheering crowds, because you had won no election, had received no mandate to govern.

Given the Rajapaksa family history of power hunger, bloodlust and greed, coupled with the demands of the national protest movement, Sajith Premadasa drew a line in the sand and refused the premiership under a Rajapaksa presidency. Whether he did so on principle, or out of fear of taking on so great a challenge, I cannot say.

The fact that you have risen to the moment and taken on the most difficult job in the country is thus admirable.If you are to succeed, you can only do so by unifying and integrating, not by dividing and conquering.

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