People hold a candlelight vigil for the victims and injured demonstrators during anti-government protests in Colombo on July 16, 2022 People hold a candlelight vigil for the victims and injured demonstrators during anti-government protests in Colombo on July 16, 2022  (AFP or licensors)

Pope urges Sri Lankan leaders to initiate dialogue for common good

Pope Francis reiterates his closeness to the people of Sri Lanka where a devastating economic crisis has engulfed the nation and led to the ousting of the President.

By Linda Bordoni

Pope Francis again expressed his closeness to the people of Sri Lanka, assuring that he joins them in prayer.

Speaking during the Sunday Angelus he also issued an appeal to all parties who are engaged in finding a solution to the crisis, rooted in corruption and economic mismanagement, that has deprived the people of basic needs and livelihoods and led to a popular uprising.

“I urge all parties to seek a peaceful solution to the present crisis in favour, especially of the poorest while respecting the rights of all.”

The Pope also said he joins the religious leaders of the country  “in imploring everyone to refrain from any form of violence and to initiate a process of dialogue for the common good.”

What’s happening

Sri Lanka’s ousted president meanwhile, fled overseas this week to escape the swelling popular uprising against his government.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa's resignation was accepted by parliament on Friday after hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters came out onto the streets of Colombo a week ago and occupied his official residence and offices.

Sri Lanka's parliament met on Saturday to begin the process of electing a new president, and a shipment of fuel arrived to provide some relief to the crisis-hit nation.

Parliament will next meet on Tuesday to accept nominations for the post of the president. A vote to decide the country's leader is set to take place on Wednesday.

Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, an ally of Rajapaksa who is the sole representative of his party in parliament, has been sworn in as acting president until then.

Vigil for victims of protests

Sri Lanka’s anti-government demonstrators held a vigil overnight in memory of those who lost their lives during the massive protests in the island nation, which completed 100 days on Sunday, and which achieved its main objective of getting President Rajapaksa to step down.

Although the first protests began around the end of March, when the island experienced a daily power outage lasting more than 13 hours, it was not until 9 April that thousands of people began occupying the park in front of the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo, demanding Rajapaksa’s resignation.

17 July 2022, 12:37