Washington, DC – The United States diplomatically avoided blessing any of the leaders in the ongoing constitutional crisis in Sri Lanka, leaving it to the domestic players to decide, but again called on the Sri Lankan president to consult the speaker and reconvene the parliament immediately.
President Maithripala Sirisena had sacked premier Ranil Wickremesinghe and controversial Sri Lankan strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as the new prime minister.
Replying to questions from journalists on whom does the US recognize in the leadership role, Robert Palladino, the new Deputy Spokesperson diplomatically said, “This determination needs to be made in accordance with due process and Sri Lankan law. That’s the United States’ position.”
Addressing journalists at the State Department “off-camera, on record” briefing, Palladino continued, “We call on the president, in consultation with the speaker, to reconvene parliament immediately and allow the democratically-elected representatives of Sri Lanka to fulfill their responsibility to affirm who will lead their government.”
“We expect the Government of Sri Lanka to uphold its commitment to human rights, rule of law, reform, accountability, justice, and reconciliation regardless of who occupies that leadership position,” Palladino added.
On the fears of violence as thousands marched in support of Wickramasinghe, Palladino called on “all sides to respect the law and due process and refrain from intimidation.”
On the US role and presence in Sri Lanka, Palladino noted that the US diplomats were “engaged on this issue,” adding, “We continue to follow it extremely closely, and we’re concerned.”
Palladino said the US has, “Robert Hilton, as currently in charge,” adding, “Our ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives last week was sworn in and arrives tomorrow. So as of tomorrow we will have an ambassador at the helm.”
Alaina B. Teplitz is the new US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and will serve concurrently as Ambassador to the Republic of Maldives. Hilton began his tenure as Chargé d’Affaires on July 15, 2018 upon the departure of Ambassador Atul Keshap.