‘Exercise restraint’ Guterres urges Sri Lankans, as political crisis deepens

IRIN/Amantha Perera Relatives of missing persons from Sri Lanka’s 26-year long civil war hold their pictures during a meeting in the capital Colombo.

United Nations chief António Guterres said on Sunday he was following Sri Lanka’s deepening political crisis with “great concern”, after a man was killed allegedly by a politician’s bodyguard, who reportedly fired on a crowd of demonstrators.

Sri Lanka’s President, Mathripala Sirisena, suspended the national Parliament for two weeks on Saturday, in an effort to build support for his decision a day earlier, to remove the country’s Prime Minister following months of disagreement, according to news reports.

Many Members of Parliament, and Government Ministers denounced the move as unconstitutional, and Mr. Sirisena swore in a controversial former President as the new Prime Minister; Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sunday’s shooting came amidst street protests which erupted, resulting in a crowd blocking one of the now-sacked cabinet ministers, from entering his office. Reports say the shooting victim died after being admitted to hospital, and two others were injured.

Suspended Prime Minister, Ranil Wickramasinghe, is refusing to accept his dismissal, and is appealing for support among MPs, arguing that he still commands a parliamentary majority, say news reports. He has so far refused to leave the official Prime Minister’s residence.

In a statement, the Secretary-General called on the Government “to respect democratic values and constitutional provisions and process, uphold the rule of law and ensure the safety and security of all Sri Lankans.”

He urged “all parties to exercise restraint and address the unfolding situation in a peaceful manner.”