UN chief extends support to Sri Lanka amid economic crisis

Colombo: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has extended support to the Sri Lankan government and the people to meet their immediate and long-term needs.

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“The United Nations is ready to support the government and people of Sri Lanka in meeting their immediate and long-term needs and is looking forward to continuing the cooperation of the United Nations in building peace, sustainable development, and promoting human rights for all Sri Lankans,” according to the statement released by President Media Division.

In the congratulatory message to the Sri Lankan President, the Secretary-General said that the leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe will be crucial for building a favorable environment and stability to overcome the current challenges that the country is facing.

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Secretary-General Guterres acknowledged Wickremesinghe’s commitment to forging a consensus among all political parties in formulating a national strategy to address these challenges.

“He also encouraged dialogue among all stakeholders, including consultation with the public, while ensuring respect for the rule of law and basic human rights principles,” the statement reads.

“Furthermore, support has been expressed in recognizing Sri Lanka’s efforts towards women’s political participation and encouraging the President’s leadership to accelerate progress,” the statement added.

With many Sri Lankans experiencing extreme shortages of essentials including food and fuel, peaceful protests began in March. The protests led then-Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign on May 9, and his brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to flee the country on July 13 and resign the following day.

Ranil Wickremesinghe became acting president, and parliament elected him as the new president on July 20 with the support of the Rajapaksas’ political party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna. He had previously described some protesters as “fascists” and declared a state of emergency on July 18.

On July 21, Wickremesinghe issued an order to “call out with effect from July 22, 2022, all the members of the Armed Forces . . . for the maintenance of public order.”

Under emergency powers, the president can override, amend, or suspend a provision of any law, except the Constitution. Emergency powers can be used to detain people while bypassing the ordinary process of the courts and have repeatedly been used in the past to enable human rights violations.

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