Qualms delay appearance of a ‘common’ messiah

11 November 2014 08:27 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The political system of Sri Lanka is at a cross road where the ruling party has sought a Supreme Court ruling whether President Mahinda Rajapaksa can run for a third term. Some legal experts regard this overture as an extreme use of the executive powers vested with President Rajapaksa.
Amidst the controversy surrounding the President’s wish to contest the Presidency for the third time,  opposition parties are having discussions in fielding  a ‘Common’ candidate to contest the soon-to-be-announced Presidential Election. The Dailymirror spoke to representatives of several parties whether they would support a common candidate who promises to abolish Executive Presidency and establish the rule of law. 

 


 

 

The party leader of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Anura Dissanayake said that they have not reached a conclusion about fielding a common candidate.
However, he said  his party was against the decision to hold a Presidential Election as they believed it was unconstitutional. “We have not reached a conclusion yet with regard to the common candidacy. As a party we believe that having a Presidential Election is against the constitution of the country.  We will finalise the matter once the election is announced,” he said.


When the Dailymirror asked JVP  leader whether they are ready for an election, he said depending on the circumstances they would come to a decision. “We will take into account the interpretation given by the Supreme Court and the constitution if an election is declared,” he said.

 


 

 

Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) General Secretary and Member of Parliament, Venerable Athuraliye Rathana Thera spoke to the Dailymirror regarding his views on the common candidacy. Rathana Thera is the leader of the Pivithuru Hetak (Clean Tomorrow) National Movement, that has a goal to abolish the executive presidential system and implement the proposed 19th Amendment. 


Rathan Thera said that they have not selected a common candidate yet as they had more pressing matters to consider before doing so.“We have not taken a decision on who the common candidate should be. But, the selection should be done in discussion with all political parties. It is is not the priority right now.

What is more important is to agree with common principles on a single platform. This is what we are doing with our discussions with other parties,” he said. 
“Right now our priority is to implement the 19th Amendment and abolish the Executive Presidency before Presidential Election takes place. We are trying to pressurise the government to become flexible and implement our proposals. On the November 12 (today) we will hold a rally with the participation of all major political parties and apply maximum pressure on the government to implement the 19th Amendment,” he added. 


Rathana Thera also said that if the government doesn’t comply with the JHU proposals, they will have to think about their next step.

 


 

 

Lakshman Kiriella, United National Party (UNP) MP, a lawyer by profession and a former Minister of Plantation Industries said that the UNP will support a candidate who will establish the rule of law and abolish the Presidency and that once the election is declared, the UNP will announce a candidate. 
“Leaders of all the parties forming an opposition alliance will select the candidate who can defeat the incumbent,” he said.

 


 

 

Parliamentarian Hasen Ali, the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress said that his party has not taken an official decision on whether to support a common opposition candidate or not. 


“As representatives of a minority community, we have to wait and see what the common candidate’s manifesto says with regard to the minority communities and the ethnic problems they face. Muslims have undergone some difficulties in the recent past and those issues need to be addressed. Therefore, we will wait until the common candidate – whoever it may be – announces his or her election manifesto before making a decision,” he explained. 


When asked whether he believed that the Presidency should be abolished, the  SLMC general secretary reiterated that the presidential system in its present form has created much confusion and chaos in the country. “We believe that the Presidency should either be abolished or drastically modified. More powers should be given to independent commissions. Currently, the presidential system has created confusion because of the way it is handled by government officials and ministers. I do not completely blame the president, but the system is being misused and is beyond anyone’s control,” he pointed out.


He also added that the proposed 19th Amendment had some good features and it highlighted the elements in the system that need to be changed or reformed.“There are proposals in that amendment  that are welcome. However, as a party we have not officially discussed this issue nor taken an official decision,” he said.    

 


 

 

Democratic Party Deputy Leader and MP Jayantha Ketagoda expressed the DP views with regard to the issue of a  common candidate. The Democratic Party is led by former army commander Gen. Sarath Foneseka who was the common candidate at the last Presidential Election. 


“As our leader Gen. Fonseka has said, our party will take a decision on whether to support the candidate or not after considering his or her suitability to be the common candidacy. We will see if he or she is a trustworthy candidate who is dedicated to our common goal. At the moment the discussions are mainly focused on agreeing on common principles and we have not selected a common candidate  yet,” he said. 


When asked whether his party agreed with the proposals in the proposed 19th Amendment put forward by Ven. Rathana Thera and his movement Pivithuru Hetak, he said that they can agree on most of the proposals in the 19th Amendment.“There are some differences but for the most part our goals are similar to those put forward by Rathana Thera. However, Rathana Thera and the JHU are still a part of the government and they made these proposals to the government. They are still waiting for the government’s response,” he said. 


When asked whether the party plans to support some of the contenders including Ranil Wickremasinghe, Karu Jayasuriya and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, he dismissed them as rumours.“These are only rumours; an official decision has not been taken yet. We will comment on the matter after the common candidate is announced officially,” he said. 


MP Ketagoda also commented on the possibility of General Fonseka being fielded as the common candidate. “As things stand now, he has been stripped of his voting rights which means he cannot contest as a candidate. The government stripped his voting rights close to an election to prevent him from becoming the common candidate. We are in the process of writing to the Geneva Human Rights Council Secretariat regarding this injustice. We will also take legal action against this move.” 

 


 

 

 

R. Sampanthan, leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), MP said that they will decide on whether to support a common candidate or not after the elections are announced. 


“The Presidential Election has not yet been announced. There is an expectation that it will be announced shortly. We will consider the matter in depth only after the elections are announced. After considering the candidates who will be contesting the election we will decide on who to support,” he said.


When the Dailymirror inquired whether they [TNA] will support a candidate who would abolish the Executive Presidency and establish the rule of law he said several issues need to be considered.


“We have to consider several issues. The executive powers of the president and the need for it be brought to an end is a an opinion that has been voiced by almost every politician in the country. Without question it is a very important issue. But there are other important considerations to be taken in to account. Whatever the decision we take will depend on the totality of the issues we have to consider,” he said.

 


 

 

Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana of the Lanka Sama Samaja Pakshaya (LSSP) a former Minister of Technology and Research said the LSSP has no faith in candidates who promise to abolish the executive presidency.


“We have seen when former president J.R Jayawardene gave enormous powers to the Executive Presidency he said that no-one will give it up. That is being proven with time. People will be making promises but once they get elected there is no guarantee that they will make changes,” he said.


He also said that the LSSP and the Socialist alliance is trying to prevail  upon the government and the president to make use of the two-thirds majority they enjoy to bring about the changes.


“Ideally we wanted the president to delay contesting until his full period is over and during the interim period to make use of the two- thirds majority to bring about the changes we desired. He insisted he wanted to have the election early-- presumably in January next year. However, we still say that even after the election the two thirds majority is used to make the changes. We have been having discussions with the president himself and senior leaders of the SLFP on this issue and hope to have more discussions,” he said.


He emphasised that the LSSP had no faith in the idea of a common candidate and will not support one.


“We have no faith in the idea of common candidate. The idea that the common candidate will guarantee the removal of the executive presidency and affect changes to the electoral system cannot be guaranteed. The SLFP was positive about the electoral system that we wanted,” he said.

 


 

 

 

The leader of the Democratic People’s Front, Mano Ganesan said that his party is a part of the common {opposition] front. “Since we are a part of the common front we fully support the concept of a common candidate. Firstly we need to have a common platform which is slowly being developed now.  Secondly we need a common basic programme which we are formulating now. Incidentally a meeting is taking place on the 12th at Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera’s temple. The last step will be to find a common candidate who will represent this common platform. There are many parties with us while some other parties are to join our front,” he said.


In the agreement of the common candidate, Ganesan said they will consider the credentials of the candidate.
“Our party will not blindly support anybody. It will be decided on the credentials of the candidate before extending our support,” he said.

 

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  • M.O.A.Careem Friday, 14 November 2014 02:09 AM

    see Northern P /NCP/ NWP/ CP/ SGP/UP/ WP/ EP/ WP/


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