Tens of thousands gathered in Sri Lanka again today to make sure that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa finally resigned and was gone. With the help of the military, the president was reported to have fled the country to Maldives in the early morning. Resignation news would only come via the Speaker of the Parliament. Protesters were still not sure whether he had resigned and continued their protest. However, the announcement of resignation coincided with retaliation against the protesters. As it was clear that the prime minister would continue to protect the Rajapaksas’ interests in power and make sure that the old style of rule would continue, the protesters also marched towards the prime minister’s office. After a significant battle with the security forces, the masses took over the prime minister’s office. Protesters have also asked the national television to telecast their messages instead of spreading lies and rumours about the protests. National television refused this demand. The government also moved a huge number of military and security personnel to protect them. Despite this, the mass protest also moved towards this television station to make their voice heard properly.
It was reported that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was quickly appointed as temporary president. This is also an act of provocation, as the protesters were already demanding his resignation. No usual parliamentary ceremony or formality has taken place regarding this appointment. But within minutes, Ranil used the executive power of the presidency to decree countrywide emergency rule and a curfew. Ranil also urged the armed forces to crack down on the protesters, calling them ‘fascist’.
The mass protest has determined so far to push back these attacks and false propaganda. They have asked the whole government to step down. However, they have also asked to set up an interim government. The United Socialist Party (USP) and Committee for a Workers’ International appeal to all the leaders of the struggle to change this position and reject the attempt to form an interim government. How can it be formed? The majority of parliamentarians have up until now given full support to the Rajapaksa regime and its policies. Many are very corrupt and will take the first opportunity to betray the interests of the masses. All of them – including Sajith Premadasa, the official parliamentary ‘leader’ of the opposition – represent the interest of profiteers. Sajith recently called for maximum austerity as a solution to the crisis. There is another way. Only a mass movement can push society to take that path. The working class and the poor can plan the resources of the country to meet the needs of the masses. The power that was brought to the streets by the masses must be maintained if this is to happen. Please read further details on program put forwarded by USP/CWI
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- All attacks on protesters must be stopped immediately.
- The emergency must be lifted immediately.
- The whole government must step down.
We appeal to the mass movement:
- Reject the interim government proposals.
- Establish a national assembly of elected delegates from committees in workplaces, villages, and towns
- This Assembly should set up a key outline of an emergency economic plan and prepare for the election of the constituent assembly.
- All debt payments must be stopped immediately. All farmers, small businesses, and families should not pay the debt that they owe.
- Confiscate the businesses and wealth of the Rajapaksa family and corrupted elite, and use these to deliver immediate demands such as food and fuel.
- Victory to the struggle!