Sri Lanka’s Opposition Leader slams govt. invite to Myanmar junta’s Minister

Sri Lanka’s Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa. File   | Photo Credit: AP

Sri Lanka’s Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa “vehemently” condemned the Rajapaksa administration’s invitation to the Myanmar junta’s Foreign Minister, for a virtual meet of regional body BIMSTEC early April.  The invitation “basically legitimised the military takeover”, Mr. Premadasa said, describing the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena’s move as “distasteful and dastardly.”   

In a letter sent earlier this month, Mr. Gunawardena invited the junta-appointed Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin for a ministerial meeting of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation that Sri Lanka currently chairs.  

Amid mounting criticism from hundreds of social media users and pro-democracy activists from Myanmar, Colombo sought to justify its invitation, saying it was extended to all members, and limited to the BIMSTEC meet. The government is yet to decide on its stance on the military power grab in Myanmar, Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage earlier told The Hindu. 

Urging the Foreign Minister to withdraw his invitation, and apologise to the people of Myanmar, Mr. Premadasa told media persons on Thursday that the Foreign Minister had the “audacity” to invite an illegally appointed Minister, despite Aung San Suu Kyi’s party securing a “resounding” win in the last elections.  Her party, Mr. Premadasa said, came to power “by the ballot and not the bullet”, adding: “But today bullets are being used by the military administration on the people of merely for attempting to restore democracy.”  

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party has called on the government to “impress upon the Myanmar delegation”, scheduled to participate in the virtual meet, to revert to the democratically elected President, State Counsellor and Parliament. 

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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 8:56:39 AM |

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