Today is the Republic Day of Sri Lanka
Today (22nd May) is the Republic Day of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was declared as a Republic on 22nd May 1972 by the former Prime Minister Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike. On this day a new Constitution entitled as the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka was also proclaimed.
Sri Lanka was under British rule from 1818 and received Dominion Status from the Britishers in 1948. However, this was not a total independence and the British government continued to hold their control over the Airport at Katunayake and the Trincomalee harbour and stationed their contingents in these two ports.
Further, the Sri Lankan government even after receiving independence adhered to the foreign policy of the British government as their foreign policy. A fine example of this political obedience to the Britishers was that a football team from the Soviet Union was not permitted to enter Sri Lanka in 1953 at the behest of the British Government.
This situation changed with the establishment of the people’s government led by the late Prime Minister Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in 1956 and among the initial steps taken the late Prime Minister was to instruct the British government to evacuate their forces stationed in the Sri Lankan ports.
He also established Sri Lanka’s political independence by proclaiming the non-aligned policy as Sri Lanka’s foreign policy. If it was not for these measures, and if the late Prime Minister Mr. S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike did not come to power in 1956, the Sri Lankan government would have supported the joint British-French invasion of Suez Canal, when President Gamal Nasser of Egypt (United Arab Republic – U.A.R) nationalized the Suez Canal. Sri Lanka not only firmly backed the Suez Canal nationalization and was even prepared to send Sri Lanka security forces to assist the Egyptian Army, if it was required.
In 1962 there was a coup d’etat against the late Prime Minister Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike by the higher officers of the armed forces. This coup was foiled and several high ranking security personnel were convicted in the trial that followed. However, under the constitution that existed at that time, the Queen of England who was also the Head of State of Sri Lanka gave clemency to these convicts.
It was under these circumstances that all Sri Lankans felt the need to become totally independent from the British clutches.
The Republican Constitution proclaimed in May 1972 was fulfillment of this need and making Sri Lanka an independent and sovereign nation. Accordingly Sri Lanka got its own Head of State and an elected parliament from 22 May 1972.
- Asian Tribune -