Ahead of a meeting of the Sri Lankan Parliament to elect a new President, the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo, Gopal Baglay, met Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena Saturday and said India will continue to be “supportive of democracy, stability and economic recovery in Sri Lanka”.
This was the Indian envoy’s first publicly announced contact with the Sri Lankan parliament following the flight — and resignation later — of disgraced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the swearing-in of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as Acting President.
In a Twitter post, the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka, said, “High Commissioner called Sri Lanka to get new President by July 20, India envoy meets Speaker on Hon’ble Speaker today morning. Appreciated Parliament’s role in upholding democracy and Constitutional framework, especially at this crucial juncture. Conveyed that India will continue to be supportive of democracy, stability and economic recovery in Sri Lanka.”
High Commissioner called on Hon’ble Speaker today morning. Appreciated Parliament’s role in upholding democracy and Constitutional framework, especially at this crucial juncture. Conveyed that 🇮🇳 will continue to be supportive of democracy, stability and economic recovery in 🇱🇰. pic.twitter.com/apXeVWCnMA
— India in Sri Lanka (@IndiainSL) July 16, 2022
This expression of support from New Delhi to the democratic process under the Sri Lankan Constitution assumes significance given that protesters are still demanding the resignation of Wickremesinghe, the entire Cabinet and senior officials.
A group gathered and protested outside the Indian High Commission in Colombo Saturday.
Meanwhile, the parliamentary process to elect a new leader on July 20 has begun. On Friday, Speaker Abeywardena had said that the new President would be elected through Parliament on July 20 as decided by leaders of all political parties.
Nominations for the post will be called on July 19 and voting will take place on July 20 in accordance with provisions in the Constitution, said the Communications Department of Parliament.
Apart from Wickremesinghe, Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa, former Army chief Sarath Fonseka, former minister Dullas Alahapperuma and JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake have expressed interest in becoming Presidential candidates.
Parliament secretary general, Dhammika Dasanayake said Saturday that nominations for the election of the new President will be heard Tuesday and if there is more than one candidate, the lawmakers will vote Wednesday.
Dasanayake also read out President Gotabaya’s resignation letter in Parliament. In the letter, Rajapaksa said he was stepping down following requests by the people of Sri Lanka and political party leaders. He noted that the economic crisis was looming even when he took office in 2019 and was aggravated by frequent lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic.
— With Agencies