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Editorial - Statesmanship could settle this crisis


12 November 2012 06:30 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


With the impeachment crisis worsening, the Chief Justice through her lawyers has issued a statement strongly refuting the main charges made against her by the Government in the impeachment motion, which the Speaker placed in the order paper of parliament last Tuesday.

Last Wednesday the media gave wide front-page headline publicity to the Government’s 14 charges against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. With her reputation challenged, the Chief Justice acted fast to issue a media statement the next day, explaining her bank accounts and pointing out that she got 27 million rupees in foreign exchange from her sister and brother-in-law in Australia to pay for the apartment and property they had bought from the Ceylinco Group.

The Chief Justice pledged she would, as always, continue to duly and properly discharge her duties without fear of favour. She would do so independently, impartially and fearlessly in accordance with the Law.

The CJ's statement appears to imply that for political or other reasons, the main charges against her are unfounded. If at all the charges have no basis of truth then we have a crisis of unprecedented proportions with  independent analysts raising questions as to who drafted the impeachment motion.
In such a calamity we need to look at the root cause of what happened or how it happened. Most independent analysts would agree that at the root of this and other crises are the absolute power of the executive presidency.

Most people now believe that the executive presidential system poses a grave danger to democracy, good governance, accountability and human rights. This happens especially when the ruling alliance has more than a 2/3 majority in parliament through a patch-work coalition. It has split to some extent over the impeachment motion with the socialist parties, the LSSP and the CP calling for the withdrawal of the motion. Socialist leaders like D.E.W. Gunasekera, Tissa Vitharana and Vasudeva Nanayakkara need to walk the talk now if they are sincere in their commitment to democracy and good governance with checks and balances and a separation or sharing of powers among the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.

Insiders say President Mahinda Rajapaksa wanted to handle this crisis in a more discreet or diplomatic way instead of clashing head-on with the Chief Justice, a course of action undermining the integrity and independence of the Judiciary. But other powerful forces are believed to have insisted on the impeachment mainly because several provisions of the Divi Neguma Bill were declared as a violation of the constitution. It is not too late to end this political war between the Executive and the Legislature on one side and the Judiciary on the other. If the President rises to the level of a statesman, this crisis could be settled without going through a verbal warfare that could cause irreparable damage to Sri Lanka.   

  Comments - 1

  • NAK Wednesday, 14 November 2012 06:33 AM

    It is down right silly of some trying to portray this as a result of the Divi Naguma bill,completety forgetting or purposely ignoring the incident where the JSC insulted the Office of the president by publicly declining an invitation by the president,espacially after requesting a written invitation.
    Also even if the financial malpractices are disproved she still has to face the charge of her spouses malpractices and harrasment charges.

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