A New Parliament the only way out

16 November 2018 03:13 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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But the process must be legitimate

Why the best option for the country now is to go for a Parliamentary Election

 

his is a golden opportunity for the ordinary people of Sri Lanka to learn about the Constitution of the country. However, they have to learn the law with the highly prejudiced arguments of extremely opportunistic politicians and the lawyers who argue for their political clientele, and not with the objective analysis of academics or the experts.  
Interestingly, the Articles 33 and 70 of the Constitution are fast becoming two household clauses, with even the children mentioning them in their conversations with each other.  
President Maithripala Sirisena has put the Constitution to debate among the people twice within two weeks.  
On October 26, he, in a surprising turn of events unseated Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sirisena’s archrival and whom he defeated at the last Presidential Election with the help of the vote bank of the Wickremesinghe’s party, the United National 
Party (UNP).  


And while the whole country was arguing over the legality of that regime change, the President on November 9, which was also incidentally a Friday, dumbfounded the country again by dissolving the Parliament while scheduling Parliamentary Elections on January 5.  
The irony is that the supporters of Rajapaksa, who were highly elated when he was appointed Prime Minister, were similarly happy when the President prorogued the Parliament on the next day.  
And interestingly, they were even more overjoyed when their hero’s Government was dissolved by the President in two weeks, even before he occupied the Prime Minister’s seat in the House.  
President Sirisena justified his decision to dissolve Parliamentsaying that there was a possibility of a bloodbath when the Parliament met on November 14 and that prices were placed on the heads of Parliament members.  

 

"Hence, the best option the country has now is to go for a Parliamentary election. If the Supreme Court ruled on December 7 that the four-and-half-year Constitutional restriction on the President to dissolve the Parliament applied to the present circumstances, the only way out is to dissolve the Parliament through a resolution by the Parliament itself"


However, there wouldn’t be any clash; leave alone a bloodbath had Rajapaksa commanded the confidence of the Parliament, as required by the Constitution when he was appointed Prime Minister.  It was the President who created that danger.
On the other hand, it was no secret that the President prorogued Parliament in order that Rajapaksa was able to buy over MPs or in the President’s words to place a 
price on MPs.  
Also, it was a well-known fact that he dissolved Parliament when it was apparent that Rajapaksa would not be able to buy over or attract through some other means a sufficient number of MPs, before Parliament met of November 14.  
It was well evident by the jubilation of the Rajapaksa loyalists when their own Government was dissolved.  
The UNP and others who did not challenge the sacking of Wickremesinghe before the court went to the Supreme Court on Monday, the first weekday after the dissolution of Parliament, challenging that dissolution.  


12 petitions, including those of the UNP, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), challenging the dissolution of the Parliament were taken up by the three-member bench including the Chief Justice Nalin Perera on Monday and Tuesday, which culminated in staying the President’s Gazette Notice on the dissolution and holding of the next General Elections.  
This ruling allowed the Parliament to function as scheduled before the dissolution. But National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa at a media conference convened by the Rajapaksa’s lieutenants argued that Parliament couldn’t meet since the Supreme Court’s Stay Order was not the final verdict.  
It was clear that the reason behind his argument was nothing but the fear on the part of the Rajapaksa loyalists to face a possible unpleasant challenge thrown at their boss, by the UNP and its allies to show his majority in the House.  
Yet, it was a strong argument, since everything done by Parliament after that would be null and void, if the Supreme Court finally endorsed the dissolution of the Parliament, on December 7.


However, when the Parliament met on Wednesday, as scheduled by the President’s Gazette on the prorogation of the House, almost all Rajapaksa loyalists including 
Weerawansa attended.  
The agenda for the first meeting, according to the newly appointed transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva included only the President’s traditional policy statement and adjournment of the House.  
However, the UNP argued that the party leaders’ meeting had decided to prepare an agenda for the day during the proceedings of the House. That means House will adopt an agenda as a whole or item by item by majority vote.  
President did not attend the Parliament. Mahinda Rajapaksa had occupied the Prime Minister’s seat, with his supporters sitting on the Government side, while Ranil Wickremesinghe was sitting in a backbench on the Opposition side, among his supporters, despite the UNP claiming that Wickremesinghe was still the Prime Minister.  

 

"No party has the capacity to form a Government on its own or in coalition"


Before the adjournment, JVP Propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath handed over to the Secretary General of the Parliament a No-Confidence motion against Prime MinisterMahinda Rajapaksa and his Cabinet.  
The words eeniya (so-called) written before the words Prime Minister and the Cabinet in the motion had been tipexed, when the motion reached the media. The motion carried 122 signatures in it.  
Despite the motion stating that the Gazettes issued by the President removing Wickremesinghe from the post of Prime Minister and appointing Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister had no effect, Rajapaksa opponents’ agreement to sit on the Opposition side and presenting and voting in favour of the NCM against the Prime Minister was technically an acceptance of those Gazettes by them.  
It seems to be a compromise on their part to show that Rajapaksa has no majority in the House and thereby the President had appointed him illegally, which was well achieved.


Speaker Karu Jayasuriya announced that the motion was carried by a voice vote which was not illegal. But the ethicality of passing a motion on a matter of numbers by a voice vote is highly questionable. However, in fairness to the Speaker, he gave an opportunity to the members to vote by their names, but Rajapaksa loyalists did not agree which again shows that they were a minority in the House. Also, Rajapaksa loyalists’ opposition to such a motion points to the fact that they did not have the necessary numbers.  
The crisis has worsened by the President’s rejection of the communication of the Speaker that the motion was passed.  
Accordingly, the President still recognizes Rajapaksa as the legitimate Prime Minister of the country whereas the Speaker recognises none.
Wickremesinghe contends that the motion takes the country to the status- quo that prevailed On October 26, meaning that he is still the Prime Minister. But that also does not seem to hold water, as the motion suggests only removing Rajapaksa from the post of Prime Minister who was appointed after removing Wickremesinghe from the PM post. And the movers of the motion, the JVP say that they do not accept Wickremesinghe either.
The whole crisis stems from the withdrawal of the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) from the UNP-led Government on 
October 26.  

 

"The crisis stems from the withdrawal of the UPFA from the UNP-led Government on October 26"


It created a situation where no party has the capacity to form a Government, on its own or in coalition with another party.  
The TNA might support the UNP on a case by case basis but would not form a coalition with the latter.  
Hence, the best option the country has now is to go for a Parliamentary election. If the Supreme Court ruled on December 7 that the four-and-half-year Constitutional restriction on the President to dissolve the Parliament applied to the present circumstances, the only way out is to dissolve the Parliament through a resolution by the 
Parliament itself.  
Only the UNP is unlikely to support such a resolution as the party does not seem to be confident of its victory at the forthcoming elections. Yet, leaders must take decisions in the interest of the country and not the party.  

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  Comments - 1

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  • Sach Saturday, 17 November 2018 08:58 PM

    Exactly what we need is parliamentary elections


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