By Saman Indrajith
President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday announced in Parliament a moratorium on public protests and vowed to use the military to crush any future anti-government protests aimed at regime change.
“They can call me a dictator. They must obtain police permission to stage street protests and not cause traffic chaos. There is a plan to stage another Aragalaya (mass public protest) to oust the government. I will not allow that. I will deploy the military and use emergency laws to stop them if they try it again”, Wickremesinghe said.
The President also warned that the military would be deployed and a State of Emergency declared in the event of such actions.
The President added that people and political parties were allowed to stage rallies and protest marches but it is mandatory to obtain permission from the police for such events.
He said any protest or rallies held without police permission would be stopped and the police had been ordered to do so.
Stating that several religious leaders had openly condemned protests, President Wickremesinghe said there were reports of such religious leaders being threatened by certain groups.
The President rejected the Opposition’s demand for early parliamentary elections. “I will not dissolve parliament early until the economic crisis is resolved,” he said.
President Wickremesinghe also condemned the media for inciting violence and promoting such protests; he said he would consider appointing a Commission pertaining to media after holding the necessary discussions on the matter.
The President said it was essential to protect the current progress of the incumbent government and several matters have been addressed such as the passage of the 21st Amendment, and the establishment of Parliament Committees while a budget office is also to be established.