Security Ramped Up Around Parliament Ahead Of Presidential Election

Leaders of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), the ruling party in the country have been warned on social media against voting for Ranil Wickremesinghe the acting President of Sri Lanka in the election to be held on Wednesday, July 20, reported news agency PTI. In view of the threat, security of the Parliament building has been beefed up. The speaker, Mahinda Yapa Abeywaldena has complained to the Inspector General of Police, seeking a detailed investigation of the inflammatory posts that emerged on Monday threatening the MPs. 

The complaint was lodged hours before the Parliament was ready to accept the nominations for the post of president, which has been vacant after Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country and resigned.

Consequently, armed forces and police have been stationed in and around the parliament complex and police have issued a warning that individuals responsible for creating, circulating, and publishing the threatening social media posts against MPs would be punished severely.

Sajith Premadasa, the leader of the principal opposition party Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), who is opposed to Wickremesinghe, is trying to strike a deal with Dullas Alahapperuma, according to PTI.

Who is Dullas Alahapperuma?

Dullas Alahapperuma is a staunch Sinhala Buddhist nationalist and a key member from the breakaway group of SLPP. 

He is the ex-Cabinet Minister of Information and Mass Media and a former newspaper columnist, who is being seen as a left-leaning political ideologue. 

Since 2005, he has held ministerial posts, and people see him favourably for leading a morally upright life. Given his status as a breakaway member, his role would also be challenging.

As per PTI report, a tweet by Premadasa’s economic policy guru Harsha de Silva says “The SJB and the Alahapperuma team had agreed for a common minimum economic programme if they form the next Sri Lanka government.”

The Wednesday’ election will be one of the rarest occasions when the parliament will vote to elect a president. 

The only previous occasion when the presidency became vacant mid-term was in 1993 when president Ranasinghe Premadasa was assassinated, following which DB Wijetunga was unanimously endorsed by Parliament to run the remaining years of Premadasa’s term.

Rajapaksa’s remaining tenure will be served by the new President till November 2024.

Declaration of a State of emergency by Wickremesinghe 

Prior to the crucial presidential election on July 20, Wickremesinghe Monday announced a state of emergency granting him vast powers. The opposition leaders slammed the move as an “undemocratic draconian act” and demanded his resignation, reported PTI.

On Sunday, protesters in Sri Lanka vowed to keep fighting to abolish the presidency as part of a systemic reform.

The 225-member Sri Lankan Parliament is dominated by the SLPP, which is in power and has around 100 members. SLPP has encountered internal opposition to its decision to support Wickremesinghe, the acting president.

Wickremesinghe’s United National Party was soundly defeated in the 2020 parliamentary election.

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