Editorial - Save democracy and save Lanka

2 October 2012 06:58 pm - 2     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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For the past few years, independent analysts, opposition leaders and even international observers have been saying that democracy in Sri Lanka has broken down and we are more like a dictatorship if not one. Evidence of this is seen most clearly in the breakdown of the foundation of democracy, the separation of powers among the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. This separation of powers provides the checks and balances to sustain vital democratic principles such as accountability, transparency, good governance and the rule of law.

The powerful executive presidency was given virtually absolute powers when parliament passively approved the 18th Amendment. The Rajapaksa Government has more than a two-thirds majority in parliament, and constituent parties of the UPFA apparently preferred to safeguard their privileges instead of coming out against the 18th Amendment which many analysts see as dictatorial. The main opposition UNP stayed away from parliament instead of making the people aware and launching public protests against the fatal danger to democracy.

Under the 18th Amendment, the all-party Constitutional Council was scrapped, and today we do not have an Independent Elections Commission, an Independent Police Commission or an Independent Public Services Commission. That is how elections could be  won by violating election laws. The police are unable or unwilling to act impartially.

It is in such a dangerous and deplorable situation that the judiciary is coming out strongly as the last bastion of democracy and as the last refuge for people whose fundamental rights are blatantly violated. The Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Shiranee Bandaranayake, has in recent months given some strong, widely-acclaimed rulings in cases including the GCE (A/Level) fiasco and the Divi Neguma Bill.

Last month Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunga wrote to the Chief Justice and other members of the JSC inviting them for talks with the President. No reason was given, and the JSC wrote back saying it was not willing to come for such talks because the move might compromise the independence and integrity of the judiciary. Later President Mahinda Rajapaksa told a news conference he wanted to meet the judges to discuss 2013 budgetary allocations for the judiciary. But the JSC secretary at a news conference on Friday insisted the judges would not meet the President.

Opposition leaders and independent analysts are well aware of the undercurrents in this crisis.We urge the Government to reactivate the 17th Amendment or scrap the executive presidential system if it wishes to save democracy and save Sri Lanka from the perils of dictatorship.
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  Comments - 2

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  • sg Wednesday, 03 October 2012 11:47 AM

    Excellent massage

    Panikkiya Wednesday, 03 October 2012 10:36 AM

    We have too much democracy, which we can export to other countries. Hey.... we can create a "Ministry of democracy" to handle all that. Hm......... lemme think of the best person to to be at the helm of it....

    Anyway, we won the war against terrorism, so SHUT-UP!


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