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I was asked to step down after my house was set on fire: Prez

Says there was a request for the speaker to take over

23 June 2023 06:03 am – 0      – 842

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President Ranil Wickremsinghe said he was asked to step down on the day following his house being set on fire at the instigation of certain media outlets.

He said there we also a request for the Speaker to take over as the President. However he said he stood firm and did not resign.

“On July 9, a group of organizers managed to gather a significant number of people in Colombo, something unprecedented in scale. Shockingly, these protesters went on to invade the official residence of the President. Faced with this unexpected threat, the President had to flee to the harbor and board a ship belonging to the Sri Lankan Navy. Later that afternoon, party leaders convened a meeting, during which they demanded the President’s resignation and proposed that I assume the role of acting President. However, the opposition insisted that I should also resign. I stood firm and reminded them that according to the constitution, a person with a majority vote in parliament must be found before I could resign. Meanwhile, urged by some media outlets, the protesters targeted my house and set it on fire, assuming I would be compelled to leave. However, I remained steadfast and refused to back down,” the President said.

“The following day, I was asked to resign, while some others advocated for the Speaker to take over. However, both propositions were rejected. I maintained my position and refused to resign. On Monday, with the cabinet assembled, we held a televised meeting, while the President had already left the country for the Maldives. Meanwhile, the protesters resolved to seize the Prime Minister’s office and take control of Parliament. Two days later, a fierce battle ensued outside the Prime Minister’s office despite the escalating situation, I refrained from ordering the use of firearms. Eventually, the protesters managed to break into the Prime Minister’s office, with the military accompanying them. In the afternoon, they began marching towards Parliament. I instructed the Chief of Defense to issue a statement, emphasizing that the protesters must not take over Parliament. The opposition leader supported this stance. I then directed the army commander, reminding him of his responsibility to protect the parliamentary building. Remarkably, the unarmed battalion successfully managed to quell the protests, but unfortunately, 24 soldiers were injured in the process,” he added

When the time came for the election of the new President the circumstances were quite peculiar. On one side, there was the government party led by the Rajapaksa clan, whom we were opposed to, and on the other side, there was the opposition. Surprisingly, I discovered that I had support from both the government party and the opposition, and they urged me to contest the election. Responding to their call, I entered the race and emerged victorious, winning by a margin of 135 votes.

 

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