Colombo, Jul 11 (PTI) Sri Lanka's church leaders on Monday said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has to take personal responsibility for driving the country to a state of bankruptcy, as they called for his immediate resignation as well as that of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Issuing a statement on the unprecedented political turmoil, the Church of Ceylon said the overwhelming call for President Rajapaksa's resignation from religious leaders to civil society and the average man and woman on the street is a clear reflection that he has no mandate to govern this country anymore.
"The President has to take personal responsibility for driving this country to a state of bankruptcy and a term of office can only be legitimate if the people still have confidence in the individual," it said.
The Church of Ceylon also called for the immediate resignation of the Prime Minister "who never had the legitimacy to hold office, noting that it is clear that there is no plan and no action to revive the economy other than the people having to tighten their belts and die in queues."
It said that any government which cannot command the confidence of its own people will not stand a chance in commanding the respect of outside governments or funding agencies. President Rajapaksa announced on Saturday that he will resign on Wednesday. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe also said that he will step down after a new government is formed.
Opposition parties on Sunday held talks and decided to form an all-party interim government after President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe agreed to resign.
The Church of Ceylon called for the formation of a truly representative interim administration which can regain the confidence of the people and that of the international community. Such an administration will be called to manage the present crisis swiftly while devising suitable short, medium and long-term strategies for economic revival, it said.
It also called on the police and armed forces to act with discernment and restraint in the next few days as the people are agitating for their lives and livelihood to be restored.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials.
Tens of thousands have taken to the streets in recent months, calling for the country's leaders to resign over accusations of economic mismanagement.
Schools have been suspended and fuel has been limited to essential services. Patients are unable to travel to hospitals due to the fuel shortage and food prices are soaring.
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