In a series of tweets, the president outlined the steps that should be taken to end the current political turmoil after his older brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Monday.
“Measures will be taken to form a new government to prevent the country from falling into anarchy and to maintain the state’s stalemate,” Gotabaya said on Twitter.
“A prime minister who has a majority in parliament and can ensure public confidence will be appointed within a week,” he said.
The new government will have the opportunity to present a new plan and the power to take the country forward, he said.
“Furthermore, measures will be taken to amend the constitution to reinstate the content of the 19th amendment in order to further strengthen the parliament.
“The calls of various parties for the abolition of the executive branch will be taken into account. With a new government and their potential for stability in the country, we will have the opportunity to discuss this and work for a common solidarity,” the president said in another tweet.
“I humbly ask for help in maintaining the uninterrupted operation of state machines to protect the lives and property of the people. To maintain a steady supply of necessities without allowing the country to collapse at any time,” he said, giving no indication that he had any plans to quit as demanded by the opposition and the opposition.
His tweets came after he delivered a televised address to the nation late at night in which he refused to resign but promised to appoint a new prime minister and a young government this week that would introduce major constitutional reforms to curb his power.
Meanwhile, the president reportedly contacted Samagi MP Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and goalkeeper Sarath Fonseka to run for president, the Daily Mirror reported.
Fonseka flatly denied reports that he should accept any position in government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, saying he would never be a partner in resolving the Rajapaksa crisis without consulting the protesters on the GotaGoGama site. .
Last month, Samagi Jana Balavegaya, the Opposition Party (SJB), introduced a bill amending the constitution, which included abolishing the presidential system, which has been in place in the country since 1978, and replacing it with a system that strengthens constitutional democracy.
Although the president will remain head of state and commander-in-chief, the president has no personal leeway to appoint or remove the prime minister, according to the proposal.
The Prime Minister shall be the head of the Council of Ministers and ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister, it further states.
The amendment, while seeking to invalidate the 20th Amendment adopted in 2020, aims to restore the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in order to restrain the power of the President and give power to Parliament.
19A, passed in 2015, curtailed the power of the president by giving the 225-member parliament power over the executive president.
However, 19A was abolished after Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the November 2019 presidential election.
The powerful Rajapaksa family had tightened their grip on power after a landslide victory in the August 2020 general election that allowed them to amend the constitution to restore presidential power and bring close family members to key positions.
Mahinda, the 76-year-old leader of the Sri Lankan People’s Party (SLPP), known for his brutal military campaign against the Tamil Eelam Freedom Tigers (LTTE) during his presidency from 2005 to 2015, resigned on Monday.
He is being protected at the Trincomalee naval base after being evacuated, Defense Minister Kamal Guneratne said on Wednesday.
Mahinda, who has served three times as prime minister, was set on fire in his private home on Monday. He, along with his wife and family, fled his official residence – Temple Trees – and sought refuge at the Trincomalee naval base after a series of deadly attacks on his supporters.
A curfew is in effect across the island after a mob burned down the ancestral home of the ruling Rajapaksa family amid growing anger over their mistreatment of the economy, which led to the island’s worst economic crisis.
More than 250 people were injured in the clashes, which also led to the burning of a number of properties belonging to the ruling politicians.
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from Britain in 1948. The crisis is due in part to a shortage of currency which has left the country unable to afford to import basic food and fuel, leading to an acute shortage and very high prices.
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Sri Lanka since April 9, seeking the resignation of the Rajapaksa brothers.
The powerful Rajapaksa clan has dominated Sri Lankan politics for many years. Gotabaya is Rajapaksa’s last family member in office and the resignation of his brother as prime minister did nothing to appease protesters or calm the island nation.
Meanwhile, a nationwide curfew imposed in the wake of the violence was lifted on Thursday at 7 a.m. for seven hours and will be reinstated at 2 p.m., the president’s office announced.
The curfew will then be in effect until 6 o’clock on Friday.
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