President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday took serious exception to a top Buddhist monk urging former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to take over the country as a Hitler-type military dictator. President Sirisena said as a Buddhist he had the highest respect for the clergy, but could not agree with a senior monk of the Asgiriya chapter who invited Rajapaksa to “be a Hitler, take the military and take power.”
He said the voters toppled former strongman President Mahinda Rajapaksa because they wanted to end a decade-long iron-fisted rule and win back their personal freedoms.
Addressing a meeting in Nikawaratiya yesterday the President said, in January 2015, people did not vote for food or jobs. They voted for freedom and democracy. President added that he has restored both and will not allow this country to slip back to a dictatorship.
He was saddened by the call of Ven. Venduruwe Upali Thera who sought a return to an era when citizens were deprived of their basic human rights and any dissent was immediately crushed.
He said he was being criticised as a weak leader because he did not oppress the people unlike his predecessor. Former Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike too was criticised using the same language and he was assassinated three and a half years into his term, the President noted.
Despite the threats, the President said he will not waver and will not allow the hard-won democracy to be undermined in the country.