ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s governing coalition must call a political ceasefire and put its internal cold war on hold and focus on eradicating the COVID-19 epidemic, opposition leader Sajith Premadasa said.
“I urge the leaders to set aside their personal ambitions and focus instead on this great struggle to keep our citizens alive,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Premadasa said the government must not drag the country to anarchy because of its internal conflicts and differences in opinion.
“This is the time to put a stop to it,” he said.
Premadasa was likely referring to speculation that all is not well with the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP)-led alliance. Spokespersons for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), led by former President Maithripala Sirisena, have on several occasions complained about broken promises.
Government minister Wimal Weerawansa, too, has come under fire and minister Udaya Gammanpila has also gone record referring to a well-intentioned “internal struggle”.
Premadasa said in a recent meeting with foreign ambassadors, he requested their support to Sri Lanka’s health sector in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
Sri Lanka has seen a surge in daily COVID-19 cases, a majority of which experts say are infections of the fast-spreading B.1.1.7 strain. Hospitals are running out of intensive care units (ICUs) as younger people with severe symptoms are admitted.
Premadasa said he has telephoned a number of foreign diplomats seeking their assistance in securing more vaccines, PCR testing equipment and mobile field hospitals – particularly from countries like the US, the UK and Australia.
As a responsible opposition party, he said, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB)’s objective is to extend its fullest support to the government to keep Sri Lankans alive.
“We don’t wish to make political gains from the pandemic or use COVID-19 as a political weapon. This is not the time for power struggles,” he added.
The opposition leader urged the government to find immediate solutions to problems pertaining to vaccination, field hospitals and PCR testing as daily cases surge past 1,500.
“Talk to other countries. As the opposition, we are ready to give our fullest support to that effort,” he said. (Colombo/May03/2021)