While claiming that they were deeply disturbed at the occupation of the Prime Minister's Office at Flower Road by protesting crowds, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) called upon the protesters to return the said premises to the authorities immediately.
“Whilst the BASL will continue to uphold the rights of peaceful protests, it does not support a situation of lawlessness or anarchy which are unconstitutional. Attempts to occupy Government Offices and to cause destruction and or damage to property do not constitute peaceful protests,” a statement issued by the BASL said.
They said it was necessary at this time for the Speaker, Prime Minister and leaders of all political parties in Parliament, and the citizens to understand the fragile situation of the nation and to act with utmost responsibility and with a sense of sacrifice in the best interests of the country.
“It is also incumbent on them to act in good faith and prevent the creation of a situation that could lead to the breakdown of the Rule of Law,” the statement added.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) appealed to the People of Sri Lanka, especially those engaged in protests, to remain calm and to leave room for the peaceful transition of power which the political leaders of this country have promised.
“The People of Sri Lanka had a legitimate expectation for an announcement of the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on the 13th (today) as communicated by him to the Speaker and the Prime Minister. While there were reports of the President leaving the country, the letter of resignation or even the exact time at which it could be expected was not communicated to the public.
In the meantime, there were reports of the promulgation of a State of Emergency under the Public Security Ordinance and the imposition of curfew in the Western Province, which have been subsequently clarified as being 'an intention to impose' the same. After these reports the Speaker announced that as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has had left the country that he had appointed the Prime Minister as the Acting President under Article 37(1) of the Constitution. These different communications have resulted in confusion and uncertainty amongst the members of public.
Any act of violence or destruction to any private or public property could be used as an excuse to resile on the promises held out to the People. Any act to resile on an undertaking given to the People and on which the party leaders have acted to put in place the process to elect a successor to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would be a serious breach of confidence. The disappointment of the People should be in the contemplation of political leaders who take such decisions,” the statement added.