- PM’s office denies speculation that he is stepping down to pave way for new Cabinet
- President, PM meet to discuss options to ease economic problems faced by people
- Police release tear gas on Peradeniya Uni. students protest march
- Weerawansa, Gammanpila meet President to push for interim arrangement
- SLFP proposes caretaker Government to stabilise economic situation
- Curfew to end at 6 a.m. today
By Chandani Kirinde
Thousands of people defied the curfew imposed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and took to the streets to protest against the shortage of essential goods including gas, fuel, power outages and rising costs amidst speculation of a Cabinet reshuffle on the cards to diffuse growing public anger.
The President and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa met last night to discuss the growing unrest among the public and how best to handle the situation.
The meeting came amidst speculation that the Prime Minister would hand in his resignation to pave way for the President to appoint a new Cabinet but this was promptly denied by the PM’s office which said there were no such plans at present.
A blanket ban on social media from early hours of Sunday to late afternoon as well a 36-hour curfew which came into effect on Saturday night did not dampen the spirit of many anti-Government protestors who took to the streets with their rallying cry ‘GotaGoHome’.
Over 600 persons were arrested for violating the curfew on Saturday night, Police said. The curfew will end at 6 a.m. today.
Hundreds of students at the Peradeniya University took part in a protest march which was dispersed by Police by using tear gas and water cannons while other protests went uninterrupted.
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa led a group of Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MPs to Independence Square in Colombo but were prevented from entering the area which was heavily barricaded by the Police.
Premadasa urged the Police to allow people the right to protest and not to use force on them.
Meanwhile a group of dissident ruling party MPs including Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila and Vasudeva Nanayyakara met with the President on Saturday night and handed over a proposal for setting up an interim Government.
They also met with Mahinda Rajapaksa and informed him that the setting up of an interim Government was the only viable option to overcome the economic and political impasse in the country.
Such an interim arrangement would be after discussions with all political parties in Parliament and with the agreement of the majority of members in Parliament, Weerawansa said.
He also said the Government is acting contrary to the mandate given by the people and accused it of stifling the people’s right to peaceful protest.
Meanwhile the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has proposed to the President to set up a caretaker Government to address the urgent economic needs of the people.
The President has remained non-committal to the proposals so far.