NEW DELHI: In another dramatic day in Sri Lanka, President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday defended the sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replacing him with former President and strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa, even as one person was killed and several injured in a botched attempt to kidnap Petroleum Minister Arjuna Ranatunga.
In his first official address to the nation after sacking Wickremesinghe on Friday and dissolving Parliament till November 16 on Saturday, Sirisena accused Wickremsinghe of arrogant and unbecoming conduct since assuming office in 2015.
“I believe the cultural and policy differences between us contributed to this political and economic crisis,” he said, adding that Wikremesinghe “appeared to treat Sri Lanka’s future as a joy ride for a coterie of people around him who had no sense of the common man’s thinking. He completely destroyed the concept of good governance, while corruption and waste became rampant. He was making arrogant arbitrary decisions, making a mockery of collective responsibility. “ Sirisena also accused Wikremesinghe of ignoring an alleged plot to assassinate him.
Meanwhile, in a shot in the arm for Wikremesinghe, Parliament’s Speaker Karu Jayasuriya recognised Wickremesinghe as the PM, and questioned Sirisena’s decision to suspend the House, saying it would have “serious and undesirable” consequences. In a letter to the President, he also questioned Sirisena’s decision to withdraw Wickremesinghe’s security.
Earlier on Sunday, Ranatunga’s bodyguards fired at a mob loyal to Sirisena, which tried to take the minister hostage.