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Save Lanka, abolish executive presidency - Editorial

18 December 2013 07:57 pm - 2     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The day after the legendary statesman Nelson Mandela—widely revered as the patron saint of political miracle--was laid to his eternal rest in his home village, a huge statue of this hero of heroes was unveiled in Pretoria where about 20 years ago he was sworn in as South Africa’s first black and first democratically –elected President. While statues are largely showpieces what is much more important for about hundred world leaders who attended the funeral ceremonies and others is not just to praise and pay tributes to one of the greatest statesman in history, but more so to be like him do what he did and practise what he preached.

Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Nayake Thero—who leads the National Movement for Social Justice and is emerging as a possible common candidate for the next Presidential Election—told a news conference on Tuesday the world would change if political leaders here and  everywhere not only preached and praised Mr. Mandela but also practised what he preached.

The widely respected Prelate said Madiba Mandela always stood strong and spoke out for justice and freedom. Democracy and good governance and checks and balances where the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary were independent and were able to check each other to ensure the balance of power that was essential for democracy, accountability and transparency. The venerable Sobitha  Nayaka Thero noting that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had got a front seat at the funeral service in Pretoria said he hoped that  the President and other leaders would have learnt the right lessons at this biggest gathering of leaders in world history.
The Prelate said if Sri Lanka wished to reach the dimension of the Rainbow Nation for which Madiba Mandela laid the foundation in 1994, then some vital structural reforms must be made  instead of  just  boasting about multi-million dollar infrastructure projects.  He said the first, vital and long delayed step was the abolition of the all powerful Executive Presidency which since 1977 had not only dragged Sri Lanka closer to a dictatorship but also opened the doors for unprecedented corruption, bribery and the plunder of the people’s wealth and resources mainly by ruling party politicians, their supporters and stooges and even underworld thugs.

When the then President J. R. Jayewardene introduced the executive presidential constitution in 1978 and became the first Executive President he probably had good intentions and there were some good results. But like most good intentions they have led the country to hell.

In 1994 significantly in the same year when Madiba Mandela was sworn in, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was elected with a massive majority of more than 60% and pledged she would abolish the Executive Presidential system within 24 hours because she and her party saw it as a curse. But power not only corrupts, it also brings a lot of personal gain or glory which is difficult to let go of unless there is inner liberation. To her credit, we need to mention that she did try to abolish this system in 1999 but various factors came together to prevent her.

Again in 2005 President Rajapaksa also pledged to abolish the Executive Presidency but after his re-election in 2010 he fell to the temptation of not abolishing it but strengthening it with the 18th Amendment which gives him more powers including the power to go on for life.

The main Opposition United National Party, in a resolution to be adopted at its annual convention on Saturday, will adopt resolutions for the abolition of the Executive Presidency and for a common front with other opposition parties.

Sarath Fonseka’s Democratic Party and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna also want the Executive Presidential System abolished. The main Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance is also likely to support this. If all parties including the ruling party want to abolish this dictatorial system then the people also need to rise up and make the same demand for the restoration of parliamentary democracy and the sovereignty of the people.
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  • Shehan Thursday, 19 December 2013 11:10 AM

    Clergy + Politics = Recipe for disaster!

    Asoka Thursday, 19 December 2013 10:17 AM

    Buddhist priests place are Buddhist Temples not a Parliament.


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