3.30 P.M A campaign to pressurise the President to abolish the Executive Presidency and implement the 19th Amendment is underway at the Muttaiah Park in Colombo 02.
UNP National Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa, UNP MP Karu Jayasuriya, Mangala Samaraweera, UNP Parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake, Jathika Hela Urumaya Parliamentarian Athuraliye Rathana Thera, Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera, Former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, JVP MP K. D. Lal Kantha and Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Parliamentarian Arjuna Ranatunga and all UNP Parliamentarians were on one stage, reporters said.
Former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva
Former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva said the president had secretly sought the opinion of the Supreme Court about the constitutionality of his third term before anyone could go to the court against it.
“The Supreme Court had informed that all of the ten judges signed the opinion. Unfortunately we have no place to go now,” he said.
Mr. Silva said that for the first time in history a verdict of the Supreme Court was announced in parliament.
Former JVP MP K.D. Lal Kantha
JVP Western Provincial Councillor K.D. Lal Kantha said they were not accepting the opinion of the Supreme Court to allow President Rajapaksa to contest for a third term and announce a presidential election after four years in office.
He said the president, in calling this election would be going against the Constitution. And if he did so they should all get together and campaign to send him home.
“We should not take this election lightly. It will not be a traditional election or free and fair one. President Rajapaksa is coming forward determined to win. He will do everything possible to win. We must be well prepared and committed in our effort to defeat him,” he said.
Ven. Athuraliye Ratana Thera
The convener of ‘Pivithuru Hetak Udesa Jathika Sabhawa,’ the Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera MP said today that if the president goes for a snap election without amending the Constitution, they would do everything possible to send him home.
He said all the Opposition parties including UNP, JVP and JHU should get together to mount this campaign.
“What is important is not who the common candidate would be. If the president goes for a snap election without amending the Constitution as proposed by us, we must all get together and defeat him. We have the strength to do that. I do not have much strength or power like the president. But the voice of justice rising against corruption and injustice is more powerful than any other,” he said at rally held at Muttaiah Park in Colombo.
He said more than ten ministers had assured him that they were prepared to join hands with a common opposition soon after the presidential election was announced
He said bringing all the powers onto one stage was a victory for the people and the country, and through this they would be able to abolish executive presidential system.
He said the credit for the war victory should be given to the JHU as it was they who took the lead in the war even when people were claiming that the war could not be won.
He inquired where those so called patriots were when the Casino Bill was introduced and when the country was made a colony of China, India and Europe.
“The claim of the government that it would establish a national economy was a complete lie. Now we have a corrupt and ruined economy,” he said.
Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera
The Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera said everyone must pressure the president to abolish the executive presidency and introduce a new Constitution.
He said most of the former presidents, including Chandrika Bandaranaike and Mahinda Rajapaksa, had promised to scrap executive presidency but none had done so after coming to power.
UNP National Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
Opposition and United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said the UNP introduced the executive presidency with the sole intention of developing the country but the present regime was using it solely for family development.
“I am the sole remaining MP of those who introduced the executive presidency. We introduced it to develop the country. And we were able to do so by establishing industries and the Mahaweli project,” he said.
He said having realised the excessive powers vested in the executive presidency, they introduced the 17th Amendment to reduce those powers, and established independent commissions and institutions.
“The president took on more powers citing the war; but after the war he did not take action to relinquish them. Instead he brought in the 18th Amendment which gave him more powers. There were no such accusations against the former presidents,” he said.
"As a party we have taken a principled decision to scrap the executive presidency and to set up a Cabinet responsible to parliament. We are ready to support the Jathika Hela Urumaya to implement its proposed 19th Amendment to the Constitution even tomorrow," he said.
"As a party we have taken a principle decision to scrap the Executive Presidency and to set up a Cabinet responsible to the Parliament. We are ready to support the Jathika Hela Urumaya to implement its proposed 19th Amendment to the Constitution even tomorrow," Mr. Wickremesinghe said.
05.30 P.M Heavy traffic was reported from Nawam Mawatha, Colombo 2 due to the public rally at the Muttaiah Park.
Democratic National Alliance (DNA) MP Arjuna Ranatunga and the convener of the trade union collective Saman Rathnapriya also spoke at the rally. UNP deputy leader Sajith Premadasa , MP Karu Jayasuriya, Mangala Samaraweera, Ravi Karunanayake and all the UNP MPs took part in the rally.