“You know, I am cursed with morals. I was raised a certain way. I wish I wasn’t. I wish I was raised by wolves”
It is amazing that some continue asking as to why a President who could appoint a Prime Minister with the support of around 40 MPs in Parliament in January 2015 could not do so now. More so when the President, the head of the Executive, himself asks as to why he can’t do it in October 2018, if it was possible in January 2015. The question itself coming from none other than the first citizen of the country is testimony to the degree of awareness and concern the citizenry, in general, have on Constitutional provisions and a mode of governance based on such Constitutionalism.
They remain oblivious to the fact that the powers a President enjoys are not his by hereditary succession as in the case of Monarchs, but something arising from the supreme law of the country, namely, the Constitution. In a context where many fail to notice the distinction between the powers vested in the President, Pre and Post 19th Amendment, any discussion on constitutionalism is waste of time. It becomes farcical when the President thinks that appointing a PM should be done with his aegis but not the prerogative of the Parliament. Woe unto a country befallen with such tragedy!
Quagmire runs deep...
As the chain of events triggered on the night of October 26 enters its first month, creating what some call a constitutional or political crisis, the quagmire the country has fallen into seems to run deeper than it seemed at first. In fact as days go by it gets worse with neither side prepared to budge an inch while the economy, as well as the reputation of the country in the international scene, suffer debilitating blows.
It is not very uncommon for oppositions in Parliament it walk out in protest; but when a purported government does so for whatever reasons, it is unprecedented. The Parliament is entrusted, mainly with two functions; making law and controlling finances. It is interesting to note that since the day the present government (notwithstanding the fact that technically there is no government as the Speaker , as recorded in the Hansard has declared so) has not introduced at least one Bill , let alone a budget as would have been the case in November every year, thus abrogating the duty of making law as well as controlling finances for the coming year. The reasons are within the knowledge of a five-year-old. The 121-0 result on the electronic board during the vote for the Parliamentary Select Committee appointments would be a clear precursor of their fate in case a budget or any other bill were to be submitted.
Coup on the defensive
With the Supreme Court interim order staying the dissolution of Parliament by the President, the momentum of what is known on twitter as CoupSL was arrested. The offensive suddenly turned into a series of blushing apologetics with the President, the PM and their cohorts as to what happened on October 26. Following scathing revelations recorded on phone going viral on social media, on efforts to fish MPs to support the appointed new PM and the realization dawning on such perpetrators of dastardly crimes against the sovereignty of the People devolved to their MPs elected on their ballot, with the bait of millions of rupees and other perks, that it could boomerang, the boisterous claims of winning the majority struck a dead end. Then came another tune, that of going for elections to settle this dispute once and for all. The proponents of the new government were bold in asking the question as to how an order to hold elections could be deemed undemocratic by a court. Statements made by supporters of the coup leave little doubt that there will be a lot of pressure on the Supreme Court when it delivers final relief on December 7.
Given the dark periods in our recent history, it is debatable indeed whether we have succeeded in translating the democratic system of governance in to tangible results in uplifting the lives of majority of our citizens
The insistence on elections betray a few realities; firstly an undeniable admission that the present PM lacks a parliamentary majority and thus cannot be constitutionally deemed the PM as that post is no longer subject to the whims and fancies of the President. Secondly, a brazen effort to derail from the representative mode of democratic governance maintained for the last 90 years since receiving universal franchise through the Donoughmore Constitution in 1931; thirdly, a desperateness to somehow grab state power at this very juncture without further delay. Whatever the reasons it represents a brazen attack on constitutionalism, representative democracy, parliamentary norms and above all decent and civilized mode of government change i.e. periodically held elections.
The decision of the SC will no doubt, carry monumental weight in terms of moral and political significance. Just as the mere interim order fashion a background for few MPs to break ranks with the incumbent government, undoubtedly any final decision in favour of the petitioners would sound the death knell for the government that was hastily and stealthily foisted on the country on the moonlit night of October 26. But yet again, I reiterate, not all human beings feel the pressure of moral weight and going by what we have seen thus far, one should not be surprised if the de facto government obstinately continues.
Given the dark periods in our recent history, it is debatable indeed whether we have succeeded in translating the democratic system of governance in to tangible results in uplifting the lives of majority of our citizens. Yet one thing undeniable was that we had never deviated from electing our leaders through the ballot, however much alloyed with corruption, deception, manipulation and downright rigging the process may be. The CoupSL pushed the entire nation to the very brink of civilized, ethical and dignified existence. The decision of the apex court on December 7 is not a mere matter of whether the President’s powers over the parliament has been curtailed by the 19th amendment or whether anyone appointed by him as PM is obliged to show the support of the parliament or anything of that sort.
Back with a bang!
It reaches far deeper and profound realities than that. It will decide whether we smash on the floor all the salutary features of representative, democratic and dignified mode of governance in one shy; whether we hark back to the era of the tribal warlord who governed by the strength of his raw and naked power.
CoupSL enters its second month; the wolves are ever so close, sniffing at the door that divides the civilized from the uncivilized.
“Oh yeah baby,”….. they say, “We are back with a bang, and we are not here to go!” Wolves prevail, always!