COLOMBO, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Sri Lankans marched against a government move to impeach the Chief Justice here on Monday demanding that the process be withdrawn.
The People's Movement for Democracy, an organization backed by the opposition that includes the United National Party (UNP) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), launched the protests resulting in massive traffic snarls and road closures during rush hour traffic.
Earlier in the day the opposition walked out of a crucial meeting to decide a date for the impeachment of the Chief Justice here on Monday setting the stage for a collision between parliament and judiciary.
Tension has been increasing between the parliament, which began the impeachment process in November, and the judiciary that has steadfastly protested the process used to remove the country's first female Chief Justice.
On Friday the highest court in Sri Lanka ruled that the impeachment process of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayke as unconstitutional, resulting in the entire procedure used by parliament becoming unlawful but it has not been accepted by the ruling party headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Undeterred parliament has set 10 and 11 January as the two days for the debate to finalize the impeachment and remove Badaranayake.
The Supreme Court has also dismissed the hearings held by a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) that found Bandaranayke guilty on three out of 14 charges.
Opposition parties have threatened to launch countrywide protests if the impeachment takes place but so far the government has refused to reconsider its stance.
Addressing a press briefing in Colombo on Sunday opposition representatives said that it is the government's ultimate aim to bend the Judiciary entirely to its will, commencing with the impeaching of Bandaranayake.
"If the Government tries to ignore the Constitution and the law, as per the Supreme Court ruling, we will show the Government what people's power means," Left Front Leader Dr. Wickremabahu Karunaratne said at the briefing.
The impeachment motion has also gathered much international attention with some international organizations describing it as a political witch hunt.