In his first address since Sri Lanka's current political crisis unfolded, the Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena explained at length the reasons for him sacking Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointing Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister.
Pointing to the current UNP's lack of nationalism, the corruption of Ranil and his associates and an alleged assassination plot against him, Sirisena said "only alternative I was left with was to establish a new government with Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister."
Rejecting claims that his appointment violated the constitution, Sirisena said, "I categorically state that the appointments were made totally in accordance with the Constitution and the on advice of legal experts. No constitutional violation was done when appointments were made and removal was enacted. With all respect, I completely reject the charge that what was done was a violation of the Constitution."
Read his full speech here. Extract published below:
"Politicians like us who are committed to serve the people, should always look at what is right for the people and will usher prosperity to the nation, instead of one’s political affiliations. I believe that you remember the circumstances under which I became the common candidate in 2014 and the dangers I had to face in consequence. It was a risk and a challenge that no politician in the history of the country wanted to accept. I faced this challenge despite the dangers to me and my family. I hope you will believe that the decision I took on 26th of October 2018, is a decision that is far more challenging and risky than the decision I took in November 21, 2014."
"I must state with respect, honour, and humility that I took both those decisions for the sake of the people and the country. However, Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s political conduct was unbecoming of civilized politics and belittled the victory achieved risking my life in 2015. I believe that Mr Wickremesinghe and his group of closest friends, who belonged to a privileged class and did not understand the pulse of the people conducted themselves as if shaping the future of the country was a fun game they played. I feel that Hon Wickremesinghe grossly violated the very principles of good governance we pledged to uphold."
"I wish to thank the people of the country, public officials, Police, security forces, Army, Navy and Air Force and others for the support extended to me by strengthening law and order, strengthening democratic structure and facilitating the day-to-day needs of the people."
"While concluding the speech, I appeal to UNPers who made a broad commitment to make me President to jointly commit ourselves to achieve that beautiful vision for our Motherland. I am confident that if a leader with a vision, who values what is local, who understands the common man’s feelings, values the vision and policies of Senanayakes, Jayewardene and Premadasa becomes the leader of your UNP in the future, we will be able to achieve those noble objectives."