Anger over bid to impeach chief justice


Hundreds of Sri Lankans took to the streets today to demand that the government halts a plan to impeach the country's top judge and to condemn what they claim is the intimidation of the judiciary.

Nearly 1,000 demonstrators, including opposition politicians and rights activists, marched through the capital, shouting slogans and displaying banners that read "Hands off the judiciary" and "End of judiciary – end of fair play".

Last week, the government started the process to impeach Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake after a drawn-out conflict between the judiciary and parliament. The government says Ms Bandaranayake has undermined parliament's supremacy and misused her office. Opposition politicians and critics say the impeachment motion is a ploy to stifle judicial independence.

Demonstrators staged a silent protest in front of the country's Supreme Court and then walked across Colombo to hold a rally outside the main railway station.

Opposition politician Anura Dissanayake said: "The government is trying to weaken the judiciary [and] has dealt a severe blow to the country's democratic set-up ."

Rights groups have accused the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, of tightening control over the media and the police.