Opposition plans massive rally, urges president's resignation
[TamilNet, Sunday, 19 August 2001, 19:36 GMT]
The main opposition United National Party has launched a campaign to mobilize support of the people for its massive protest rally scheduled to be held in Colombo on August 23 Thursday, opposition party source said. Senior leaders of the UNP have been attending awareness meetings in several towns in the country to get more people to Colombo to attend the proposed rally, organised by The Alliance for Democracy organizes the rally, the sources said.
The August 23 protest rally would be very similar to July 19 during which two protesters were killed in police firing, according to the sources.
"We hope there would not be any unpleasant incidents like last time. However we are prepared to face any consequences followed by government's counter moves to suppress the people's cry," said Mr.Karunasena Kodituwakku, UNP media spokesman.
Meanwhile Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe, Leader of the Opposition and United National Party Saturday asked "President Chandrika Kumaratunge to step down and hand over her powers to new administration to run the country". He was speaking at a meeting held Saturday in Colombo attended by several artists and writers who are spearheading the campaigning for Democracy.
"Chandrika's government has lost its majority in parliament. Majority of people has also rejected her leadership. Hence she should step down from the Presidency. To salvage the country from the present political crisis, a change of administration is needed urgently. The resignation of President Chandrika would certainly pave way for a new administration thus ensuring peace and stability in the country" said Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe.
He appealed to President "to reconvene parliament and hand over the administration to people who have the capability to run the country"
The opposition leader said, "President Chandrika now adopts a policy to protect herself and continue in power. The government is pursuing a policy not to protect the country but to protect itself".
Meanwhile, the People's Center for Democracy and Freedom of the Country has also announced that it would hold a mass picketing campaign Monday (20.08.2001) afternoon at Lipton's Circus Square, demanding to re-summon parliament and to restore the democratic rights of the people." Amass protest at the open-air theatre at Viharamahadevi Park, Colombo will follow the picketing campaign. The Chief Incumbent of Sri Naga Vihara, Kotte Ven.Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera, Leader of the Democratic Left Front Mr.Vasudeva Nanayakkara and the Propaganda Secretary to the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Mr.Wimal Weerawansa are the joint convenors of the picketing campaign and mass rally.