The European Union joined the US and the UK on Saturday to urge the political parties in Sri Lanka to abide by the Constitution and refrain from violence, as the island nation plunged into a political crisis after the sacking of prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. President Maithripala Sirisena sacked his former ally Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister and replaced him with controversial strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday, a move seen as an effort to allow Rajapaksa to buy more time to seek majority in the parliament. “The Ambassador of the European Union as well as the Ambassadors of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania and the UK, are closely following the events as they are unfolding in Sri Lanka.
“We urge all parties to fully act in accordance with Sri Lanka’s Constitution, to refrain from violence, to follow due institutional process and to respect freedom of media,” the EU delegation said in a statement. Last night, the US embassy and British High Commission made similar appeals for adhering to the Constitution. In its first reaction to the unfolding situation in Sri Lanka, the US State Department said it was following the development in the country. “We call on all parties to act in accordance with Sri Lanka’s Constitution, refrain from violence, and follow due process,” the State Department said in a tweet.
“We expect government of Sri Lanka to uphold its Geneva commitments to human rights, reform, accountability, justice, and reconciliation,” the South and Central Asia Bureau of the State Department said. Rajapaksa, 72 staged a dramatic political comeback on Friday, becoming the new prime minister after Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe, who termed the move as “unconstitutional” and vowed to prove his majority in Parliament.
The move that took Sri Lanka by surprise came amid growing tensions between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe on several policy matters even as the President remained critical of the Prime Minister and his policies, especially on economic and security fronts. Wickremesinghe’s sacking came after a bumpy ride of the unity government which pledged far reaching Constitutional and political reforms, including a brand new Constitution to address the Tamil minority’s political grievances.