Sri Lanka Falls to the Abyss of Despotic Dictatorship Thanks to Over Reliance on Article 122(1)
Posted on January 30th, 2015

Dilrook Kannangara

The manner in which the Chief Justice was removed resembles Pakistan under General Zia-Ul-Haq or Pervez Musharraf. Mohan Peiris was not removed from his post by legal means. The threats he faced while serving as the Chief Justice until his removal were not seen in this country’s history. The parliament was not consulted on his removal and the proper procedure was not followed. It was totally dictatorial for the president to remove the Chief Justice illegally, appoint the former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayaka, get her to resign and appoint another in her place. This is a despotic gimmick. Mahinda, although wrong in removing Shirani Bandaranayaka, followed the proper procedure and the parliament actioned it.

 

However, there is a more sinister plan behind the appointment of the new Chief Justice – Article 122(1) of the Constitution which essentially turns the nation into a dictatorship overnight by the collusion of the President, the Cabinet and the Chief Justice (along with the Supreme Court), bypassing the people and the parliament.

 

Given the gimmick played to remove the Chief Justice, the other Supreme Court judges are fearful of similar action by the government. Under undue pressure, they cannot function independently which is what the dictatorial regime is hoping.

 

Somoza of Sri Lanka

If Mahinda’s rule was dictatorial as the JVP claimed, Sri Lanka has fallen from one despotic and dictatorial regime to another; a worse one. President Sirisena who promised good governance has already shown he will go on record as the most despotic and dictatorial president ever. Strangely democracy champions of the West and their NGOs are silent on this slide to total dictatorship.

 

Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle committed horrendous crimes and was more than a tin pot dictator. His despotic regime shut democracy out at the doorstep of USA. But his action helped USA advance its geopolitical interests in a region set to stay neutral between the US and the SU. The US President at that time hailed dictator Somoza saying “he may be a bastard, but he’s our bastard!” USA has found another; this time in Sri Lanka, the epicentre of the new great game of the Indian Ocean.

 

Article 122(1) of the Constitution

Sirisena’s government doesn’t have the required two thirds in parliament to make constitutional amendments and other laws inconsistent with the Constitution. Therefore, their 100-day-program ends up a sham. To overcome this, the regime has decided to rely on Article 122(1) of the Constitution.

 

In summary, Article 122(1) gives the President and his Cabinet of Ministers the power to enact laws bypassing the people and the parliament. Similar things happen in Burma and North Korea and what used to happen in Libya and other dictatorships. If the President, the Cabinet he appointed and the Chief Justice he appointed can make laws and change Constitutions, where is democracy?

 

Article 122(1) states, “In the case of a Bill which is, in the view of the Cabinet of Ministers, urgent in the national interest, and bears an endorsement to that effect under the hand of the Secretary to the Cabinet,

(a) the provisions of Article 78(1) and of Article 121, shall subject to the provisions of paragraph (2) of this Article, have no application;

(b) the President shall by a written reference addressed to the Chief Justice, require the special determination of the Supreme Court as to whether the Bill or any provision thereof is inconsistent with the Constitution. A copy of such reference shall at the same time be delivered to the Speaker;

(c) the Supreme Court shall make its determination within twenty-four hours (or such longer period not exceeding three days as the President may specify) of the assembling of the Court and shall communicate its determination only to the President and the Speaker.”

 

The UNP government headed by President Sirisena will rely on Article 122(1) to push their promised constitutional changes and more dangerously other laws as in their view they are “urgent in the national interest”. So the President will write to the Chief Justice (who was recently appoint by the President himself bypassing all procedures!) asking if the proposed laws are inconsistent with the constitution. The response which will reach only the President and the Speaker will be a “big yes” and as one would expect “would not require a referendum or two thirds of parliament”. And then the bill will be passed by the parliament with a simple majority. Key Opposition members are shut from exercising their right by the witch-hunt currently underway so they are not likely to oppose it. With that it will be easy to get a simple majority and pass the bill.

 

Any change to the Constitution will be done in this manner detrimental to the people and the nation by shutting out the parliament, the Constitutional guarantees against arbitrary amendments of the Constitution and democracy.

 

However, there is more. Article 122(1)(a) states the provisions of Article 78(1) does not apply in such a case. Article 78(1) requires that “every Bill shall be published in the Gazette at least seven days before it is placed on the Order Paper of Parliament.” So by shutting out Article 78(1), people and civil organizations will not be able to know what is going on as publishing in the Gazette is the only official communication of government decisions to the public! The public may act on proposed bills if they harm them. By keeping them in the dark, the despotic regime can do whatever they please.

 

Conclusion

People’s confidence in the President, the Cabinet, the Chief Justice and the law of the land has seriously dented after the checkers game played with three Chief Justices. It will further erode when they rely on Article 122 (1) to make laws and change the Constitution in a way detrimental to the people and the nation. Despite Article 3 declaring “In the Republic of Sri Lanka sovereignty is in the People and is inalienable”, it is being alienated to a handpicked few.

 

All these manoeuvres are to comply with the Singapore Principles of 2013 arrived at in Singapore by the participation of many powerful members of this government. They include removing the supreme place granted to Buddhism in fact but fooling the people with a sham phrase with no operability in a secular state (P10). State institutions will not employ as many Sinhalese and prefer Tamils and Muslims instead (P9). Sri Lanka will be turned into the Balkan of the east (P4 and P3). People must be vigilant and oppose these despotic moves by the Sirisena regime.

25 Responses to “Sri Lanka Falls to the Abyss of Despotic Dictatorship Thanks to Over Reliance on Article 122(1)”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Thank you Lankaweb.

    The UNP government is working to a plan based on Singapore Principles of 2013 which was published here in Lankaweb sourced from Tamilnet and also via an article by Shenali Waduge. I encourage everyone to read the context of Singapore Principles of 2013 and the 10 principles therein. These are already shaping Sri Lanka. These create new problems for the nation and its Sinhala population. Some of these problems will be irreversible and end up in bloodshed. They range from political, social, economical, cultural and involves nestling Sri Lanka in a network of Indians and Tamils around the world. It is as obnoxious as it sounds and reverses everything Sri Lanka achieved in the post-1948 era.

    People must also be aware of the application of Article 122(1) of the Constitution to turn Sri Lanka into a complete dictatorship where vital law changes and consitutional changes are done by hoodwinking the public and the parliament. A taste of this is already there in the manner Chief Justice Mohan Pieris was removed. It is totally illegal and contrary to procedure.

    Whether we feel it or not, Sri Lanka today is a dictatorship working to an external agenda to weaken the Sinhalese and sever ties with the nation’s best supporters.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Dilrook,

    Well Said, I CONCUR with you Completely!

    Also, there APPEARS TO BE an effort to CRIMINALIZE our war heroes who Liberated the Nation and can resist these ANTI-NATIONAL ACTIVITIES in a CLOSE COLLABORATION between Western Powers pursuing their China Containment Policy and the newly elected Government. Please read the news article below.

    Whether or not Maithripala Sirisena is PARTY to this is IRRELEVANT; he is now a PRISONER of the ANTI-NATIONAL COALITION he brought to POWER!

    With these kinds of THREATS AGAINST our National Heroes, who in Sri Lanka will rise to DEFEND the Nation in the FUTURE?? No wonder President Mahinda Rajapaksa appears to be DEPRESSED!

    The PATRIOTS of Sri Lanka MUST RISE UP and ROAR IN UNISON “HELL NO! WE WON”T LET YOU DO THAT WHILE WE LIVE!”

    Aiyoooo Sirisenaaaa …. What have you DONE to our Motherland???

    …………………
    Law expert says U.S. can try Sri Lanka’s ex-Defense Secretary if no domestic probe on him

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Jan 29, Colombo: An expert on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in the United States says U.S. can try Sri Lanka’s former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa unless there is a credible probe on him by the Sri Lankan government.

    Ryan Goodman, a Professor of Law at NYU School of Law in New York and the co-editor-in-chief of Just Security, says that although under the law, President Maithripala Sirisena’s administration could legally secure Mr. Rajapaksa’s safety from a U.S. war crime prosecution if he stays in Sri Lanka only if the Sri Lankan government prosecutes him since Sri Lanka and the U.S. have signed an extradition treaty.

    Responding to a statement made by the Deputy Minister of Justice Sujeewa Senasinghe recently that former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has full protection against being taken to a war crimes tribunal of another country as long as he is on Sri Lankan soil, Prof. Goodman points out that the U.S. and Sri Lanka have a long-standing extradition agreement that would apply directly to Mr. Rajapaksa, who is a U.S. citizen, and to the offences he allegedly committed.

    There is one legal “escape” from the obligation to extradite, however, the law professor writes, since the bilateral agreement between Sri Lanka and the U.S, like most extradition agreements, prohibits cases of “double jeopardy”-prosecuting the person twice for the same crime.

    “But that requires a full-blown and genuine trial, and nothing short of it,” he says adding that Sri Lanka would have to see a trial through to the end.

    “If Sri Lanka prosecutes Mr. Rajapaksa that could indeed shelter him and preserve the country’s broader sense of autonomy. But if the Sri Lankan authorities do not act, at some point another party-in this case the United States in pursuit of its own citizen-might step in,” Prof. Goodman warns.

    The law expert expressed hope that Obama administration will signal a commitment to pursue such a path so that Sri Lankans are encouraged to take the legal matter into their own hands first.

    Prof. Goodman says recent public statements by senior Sri Lankan officials may indicate that they genuinely believe there is sufficient political space for such a prosecution and the U.S. can help engage current political will to ensure the pronouncements of these senior officials become tangible government policy.

  3. Christie Says:

    Namaste:Hi Folks; Indian imperialist have been doing their job seriously. Look at the Budget, Urid (Ulundu) and Urid flower , Tumeric, and Sustagen prices reduced. Eat the staple of South India to the heart content. Cheap Tumeric to clean the Hindu premises after any contamination by the non-Hindus be it Maithree or Ranil of Chndrika. By the way Sustagen is from India. Jai Hind.

  4. Sirih Says:

    If present idiots try GR for war crimes, their honeymoon will be over.. We will make sure of that.

  5. ranjit Says:

    All who love thy Motherland must stand up against this horrible clique of dirty traitors before they bring our country back to the brink of a another EELAM war. They do things like selling Dhal in a retail shop. They do not care any laws just change everything overnight as they pleased.

    My stomach is not greedy for food but worried about the country of my birth and the future. The way they are running the show I do not know where we will stand in a few days time. By reading and seeing articles and comments here and there I feel that something is not right and the country is leaning more towards the western countries and India which can be very dangerous in the future.

    We must get together and oust these gang of thieves in the coming General election before they do much damage to the country and to it’s people. It’s a must otherwise many good people who helped to save our country from those LTTE Butchers will be put in jail or destroyed for ever by these evil clique to please their friends in America,England and India.

    People who loves this country must come forward in force to protect our heroes and to protect our democracy. We saw before and we are seeing now the same old UNP and the Choura Regina with the help of Aiyo Sirisena trying to break our country in to pieces and deny our freedom which we enjoyed peacefully for last 10 years or so. I can feel a bleak future ahead although happy time for few.

    Sirih we will give our lives to save MR & GR. from any harm come to them.We owe them that much.

  6. aloy Says:

    Siri,
    Are you challenging seriously or just a joke?.

  7. Nanda Says:

    I don’t believe for a second the last paragraph speculation by Dilrook .

    Rajapaksa dictatorship brought us nothing in the end just a broken country to a much worse situation than on 20 May 2009.
    If he is a trustworthy man we are 10 times better off economically and 100 times better of politically. His greedy, selfish madness brought us to this situation where only way to chase the monster was to vote for Runil. HE is fully responsible to this mess.
    Anyway, this 100 day Dictatorship shall be used to the maximum to clean up the country in every way.
    after that people are free to chase UNP out.
    We need a good dictatorship, like LKY of Singapore

  8. NAK Says:

    What are you talking Nanda, if the economy was so bad as they made it to look how do you suggest Ravi K became a Robin hood over night?
    From where is he going to get the money. He explained we used the money in MR budget we only reallocated.
    That means the money is there economy is not asblack as they made it to be.
    What it really means is, we are going to gamble with this money for three months and try to win the next election, we can look after ourselves after that. Nice…isn’t it!

  9. Nanda Says:

    Money ? What money ? Look at this murder !

    Friday, 30 January 2015 08:57

    It is revealed that the expenses of Presidential Secretariat between the years 2009 to 2014 is Rs.311,390 million. This was revealed when Mr. Ravi Karunanayaka presented interim budget proposals to the Parliament.

    The expenses for the years are as follows: 2009 – Rs.6340 million, 2010 – Rs.7650 million, 2011 – Rs.50630 million, 2012 – Rs.59360 million, 2013 – Rs.82440 million, 2014 – 104970 million. In addition Rs.9593 million has been allocated for the year 2015 as well!

    The JVP continuously revealed the plunder of state assets and wasteful and excessive spending of Rajapaksa regime which created a point of view against the regime. It is such a point of view that has brought about the change that has exposed the misdeeds of the regime say political analysts.

  10. SA Kumar Says:

    The senior most Supreme Court Judge K. Sripavan was a sworn in by President Maithripala Sirisena as the new Chief Justice of Sri Lanka.

    How can We Hela Demilaya say Racist Bhudidist Chinhalavan now , Mannnnnn this is too , too much We-Tamils do not have anything to cry now.

    Velu where are you ( VP pulamba vaichchidade) !!!

  11. Marco Says:

    Is Dilrook referring to the Mahinda Rajapakse regime in the above article when he refers to the use of Article 122(1) of the Constitution? There is ample evidence of MR using the same which the author fails to mention but gazes into his crystal ball predicting that Maithripala Govt will use Art 122(1) to push through Constitutional changes. Perhaps the author is still living in the MR abyss of despotic dictatorship and mentality.
    The Govt is more than likely to obtain the 2/3rd majority to make the necessary changes to the Constitution as the Opposition have clearly indicated they would support the reforms to the Constitutional as outlined in the 100 day program. The Reforms should be well publicised and the electorate will clearly see who in the Opposition will dissent with an eye on the forth coming General Election. The author also forgets that the President is also the Leader of the Opposition who will yield some power in selecting candidates from the SLFP to contest the General Election. Dissenting SLFP MP’s will be well away of this.
    All in all a rather disappointing argument for the removal of Mohan Peiris since the ground realties are that Maithripala Govt has the requisite numbers to pass through Legislature without the Rajapakse under hand methods.
    I’m still not convinced that the removal of the defacto Chief Justice was the correct method even if one argues, how can one remove an Official when there was no vacancy to occupy that Office? . Two wrongs don’t make a right. The crux was the method used to remove Shirani Bandaranayake. The Executive President cannot and should not interpret the Laws of the Country. That’s the job of Judiciary. The technical error in the process of removing SB leads to the interpretation of the Constitutional provisions and should have been referred to and decided upon by the Supreme Court.
    This is where it would have got interesting. Had it been referred to the Supreme Court would the defacto CJ (Mohan Peiris) stood aside (conflict of interest) and let a 7 member SC bench decide upon if the removal of SB was legal.
    I suppose the end justifies the means.
    It’s laughable that the author Dilrook feels it is a grand plan to avoid the Legislature when the General Election is just around the corner and Maithripala is able to muster the required support.

  12. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    ALOY !! Siri has good vision. He is reflecting that coming events have already started casting their shadows. It wont be long.

  13. Marco Says:

    If we are to believe Tamil Net stories like the “Singapore Principles of 2013”, does Dilrook want us to to believe the “genocide” stories and that Mahinda, Gota and the defence forces committed war crimes?

  14. aloy Says:

    SW,
    I am only saying that there should be a domestic inquiry and frame charges against anybody found to be implicated. If found guilty should face consequences through our own judicial system whether war crimes or not. I think the country is in safe hands now. He will implement all his policies slowly and steadily; a true Sinhelaya has taken over the country after several hundred years. We all should cooperate with him and give space for that.

  15. SA Kumar Says:

    Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne addressing the weekly Cabinet press briefing in Colombo said that President Sirisena had told Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting that Mohan Peiris had telephoned him in the morning that day and promised to give any judgement that he (Sirisena) wanted, if Peiris was allowed to continue in office, but the President had rejected that offer outright-
    Too cheap CJ ( can to western world to work in chicken shop) or MS is lying any think possible mother Lanka

  16. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Quoting from the article:

    “Strangely democracy champions of the West and their NGOs are silent on this slide to total dictatorship”

    That was never the intention of the US, India, the Tamil diaspora or Chennai. Democracy was not the agenda. Ousting Rajapakse who defeated the Tamil tigers, ended the concept of Elam and defied India and her concept of Sri Lanka as being under her sphere of influence was the main issue.

    They would have put in Hitler while championing Democracy to rid Sri Lanka of Rajapakse. They achieved that but by doing so and if this article holds the truth then sooner or later Colombo will face a back lash from the military and the Buddhist Sanga. No more Democracy for Democracies sake but the integrity of Sri Lanka at any cost.

    Again I repeat Sri Lanka will fare much better as a Buddhist theocracy backed up by the military which is the most seasoned military in the world for no other military has seen 30 years of warfare and won.

  17. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    ALOY !! YES I TOO BELIEVE SO. PRESIDENT MAITHEEPALA HAS HIS VISION. JUST LIKE MR, HAD FLIES AND MOSQUITOS BLURRING HIS VISION, PRESIDENT MAITHREEPALA HAS SIMILAR PESTS AROUND HIM. HE MIGHT KNOW HOW TO PUT THEM OFF. I certainly wish him the blessings of the Triple gem, not to put Sinhales, and all Sri Lankans in a SPOT.

    SAK !! Do you think a High ranking Judicial Officer will ever say that. They are legal people. They know the implications they will have to face on such an issue. Somebody is spreading a canard.

  18. Marco Says:

    Courtesy of Colombo Page

    Jan 30, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe today in a special statement explained the illegality of the appointment of Mohan Peiris as the 44th Chief Justice.

    The Prime Minister pointed out that the process implemented to remove 43rd Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake is contrary to the law from the beginning.

    A proposal was submitted to the parliament of the previous government to appoint a parliamentary select committee to investigate Dr. Bandaranayke and it was not a suggestion or a motion planned to submit to the president through parliament to remove the former chief justice.

    Therefore, the whole impeachment process was flawed and it did not have validity, the PM stressed.

    Appointing Mr. Peiris who acted as the legal advisor to the cabinet as the Chief Justice was an ineffective and wrong action, when there was no legal vacancy for the post, the Prime Minister pointed out.

    The Prime Minister told parliament that he is willing to face any debate over the Chief Justice issue as opposition members have sought a parliamentary debate on the controversy surrounding the post of Chief Justice.

    Opposition legislators have expressed displeasure over the reinstatement of former Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake and demanded a debate highlighting alleged threats to the Constitution and the legitimacy of Parliament.

    Referring to the incident on the election night at former president’s official residence Temple Trees where the top judge was seen in the company of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Wickremasinghe said he saw the chief justice with President Rajapaksa on the early morning of 9th January, the day after the election, when he visited Temple Trees on a request from President Rajapaksa.

    The legal fraternity in Sri Lanka pointed out that the Chief Justice’s presence with the head of the executive when the election results are being released is a constitutional violation.

    The PM told parliament that when he asked what the Chief Justice is doing at the President’s residence, Peiris had said he came to give advice to the former President.

    Later, Peiris had telephoned the PM and told that he is willing to support the government in future court cases and wanted to meet the PM and the President Sirisena. The PM said the former Chief Justice expressed his willingness to step-down provided he gets a diplomatic posting.

    However, Peiris was not willing to take up the only vacant positions available in Vietnam and Brazil and denuded Rome, the PM said.

    end

    another sycophant bites the dust.
    Everybody knew his nick name- Cheap Justice.
    Think he lived up to that name.

  19. Nanda Says:

    Dilrook,

    Actually, a simple majority is democratic enough, having explained to people just 3 month ago and everything followed according to MY3’s election manifesto, to do important constitutional changes. The reason has been well explained. As a “(not so democratically elected, I agree) National Government” is doing it , you get even more weight to democracy side.
    There is no reason for UNP to do what you suggest them to do in the last paragraph. Even if they try to do it, there are a lot of others who will not vote and the Government will be gone.

    Let us have an unconventional way of cleaning this mess, for the benefit of the nation for years to come!

  20. Marco Says:

    Quoting from the article

    “President Sirisena who promised good governance has already shown he will go on record as the most despotic and dictatorial president ever.”

    Bernard, Dilrook- Would either of you be able to back the above statement with evidence that President Maithripala has already shown signs of being the most despotic and dictatorial President ever.
    Is this another one of Dilrook’s throw the statement in and hope it would stick or crystal ball gazing.

    One would be hard pressed to surpass Rajapakse’s reign as the most despotic and dictatorial power crazed President.
    I’m happy to be proved wrong.

  21. Nanda Says:

    Agree with Marco. He will beat JR easily.

  22. Lorenzo Says:

    NO ONE tries to frame GR. There will be NO local investigation into GR either.

    Govt. is not so FOOLISH to do that type of HARA KIRI nonsense like investigating GR. Let the terrorist modayas dream and dream.

    GR is a NATIONAL HERO and he will be treated as such.

  23. Ananda-USA Says:

    WOW … this is for the RICH only! A Rs 500,000 payment for a former Sri Lankan to get Dual Citizenship is VERY HIGH indeed!

    On the other hand, people not of Sri Lankan origin should not get citizenship for ANY PRICE, unless they are foreign SPOUSES of former Sri Lankans who get Dual Citizenship.

    For the latter, the payment should be the same as for the spouse!
    ………………………..
    Dual citizenship potentially available to all Lankans

    DailyMirror.lk
    January 29, 2015

    Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake presenting the interim budget 2015 today said that the option of dual citizenship would be available to all persons of Sri Lankan origin and granted after due evaluation. A payment of Rs. 500,000 will have to precede each individual request.

    Furthermore, provision will be made for foreigners seeking resident status in Sri Lanka who are in a position to invest US$ 10 million in the country. All such applications would be subject to the approval of Defence Ministry, and would need to be renewed every 5 years. The visa fee for such persons will be Rs. 2.5 million.

  24. Ananda-USA Says:

    Sri Lankan government promises “devolution pact” to woo Tamil elite
    Posted by Administrator on 29 January 2015, 3:20 pm

    By

    Pani Wijesiriwardena

    Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe declared last week that his government would implement the 13th amendment to the country’s constitution. After nearly three decades, the amendment, which provided for the limited devolution of powers to the Tamil elite on a provincial level in the island’s north and east, has never been carried out fully.

    Wickremesinghe made the statement on January 19 while explaining the government’s agenda to the first parliamentary sitting following Maithripala Sirisena’s election as president on January 8. Sirisena appointed Wickremesinghe, leader of pro-US United National Party (UNP), as prime minister based on a new ruling coalition, the National Democratic Front, which includes a number of right-wing parties.

    Wickremesinghe’s promise to implement the 13th amendment is in the first instance a pitch for the support of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main Tamil bourgeois party. More fundamentally, however, it underscores the shift in foreign policy toward the US and India that was ushered in by Sirisena’s election. India, supported by the US, has repeatedly demanded the amendment’s implementation as part of a “political solution” to the protracted Sri Lankan civil war that ended with the defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009.

    The presidential election had the character of a regime-change operation backed by both the US and India against former President Mahinda Rajapakse. Sirisena, a key cabinet minister and general secretary of Rajapakse’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), defected to the opposition as soon as the election was announced in a move orchestrated by Wickremesinghe and ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Washington was hostile to Rajapakse’s ties with Beijing in conditions where it is seeking to strategically encircle China as part of the US “pivot to Asia.”

    The 13th amendment was introduced in November 1987 under the Indo-Lanka Accord, which provided for Indian “peacekeeping” troops to occupy the island’s north and disarm the LTTE. The amendment, which provided for the devolution of powers to a combined north-eastern provincial council, was aimed at securing the backing of the Tamil elites for the Accord. Eight provincial councils were established across Sri Lanka in 1988 but the north-eastern council was dissolved in 1990 when a UNP government plunged the island back to war.

    Sinhala chauvinist parties and organisations have always bitterly opposed the 13th amendment. The Supreme Court ordered the de-merger of the northern and eastern provinces in 2006 on the application of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). Under pressure from the US and India, the first election for the northern province was held last year, and was won by the TNA. However, Rajapakse’s government continued to effectively rule the province through a military governor, marginalising the TNA-dominated council.

    While Wickremesinghe’s promise to implement the amendment will be welcomed by the TNA, as well as India and the US, it will generate sharp tensions within the ruling coalition, which includes the Sinhala supremacist Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) and General Sarath Fonseka’s Democratic Party. Fonseka was army chief during the final brutal offensive against the LTTE. The JVP is not part of the ruling coalition but is also supporting the government.

    In an effort to placate his Sinhala chauvinist allies, Wickremesinghe declared that the “reform will be introduced preserving the unitary character of the country.” He also indicated that one of the more controversial powers—control of the police—would not be granted to the provinces. He told India’s NDTV television channel there was a “big fear in the country” that provincial “chief ministers may turn the police into their own private army.”

    Wickremesinghe’s statement came as his external affairs minister, Mangala Samaraweera, was making his first overseas trip—to India, which welcomed Sirisena’s election. New Delhi is hoping that the new government will enable India to strengthen its position in Colombo at the expense of Beijing, which India has long regarded as a regional rival.

    The Modi government is also hoping that the implementation of the amendment will deflect opposition among working people in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu to the treatment of Sri Lankan Tamils. The protracted civil war in Sri Lanka and continuing repression and discrimination against Tamils has generated political instability in India.

    Wickremesinghe and Samaraweera have both painted devolution as enabling “reconciliation” and democratic rights for Tamils. In fact, the 13th amendment is the means for establishing a power-sharing arrangement with the Tamil elites to facilitate the joint exploitation of the working class. Speaking to a group of journalists in New Delhi, Samaraweera called on the TNA to join the government.

    The TNA, along with the JVP, is already part of the National Executive Council established by the government to oversee the implementation of its 100-day program in preparation for parliamentary elections at the end of April.

    In his statement to parliament, Wickremesinghe announced that the government will introduce a 19th constitutional amendment to replace the 18th amendment, which gave wide powers to the president to appoint top judges, the election commissioner and other senior officials. The government also plans the “transfer of executive powers to the legislature and the cabinet” currently held by the president.

    The government is preparing to release an “interim financial statement” on January 29 to deliver a limited salary increase for public sector employees and tax reductions on some essential items. All this, along with a propaganda blitz over the previous Rajapakse administration’s corruption, is part of the government’s efforts to conceal its real agenda as it prepares for parliamentary elections.

    Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake has already started discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and promised to meet the IMF’s fiscal targets. The previous government agreed to reduce the budget deficit to 3.8 percent of the gross domestic product in 2016, down from 5.8 percent in 2013.

    The new government is seeking to establish the widest possible coalition in anticipation of popular opposition to its agenda of austerity at home and the integration of Sri Lanka into US war plans. While Wickremesinghe is promising to implement the 13th amendment to secure the TNA’s support, his UNP is just as mired in Sinhala chauvinism as Rajapakse’s coalition. As social tensions sharpen, it will inevitably turn to the whipping up of communal tensions as the means to divide the working class.

    During the presidential election, the Socialist Equality Party was the only party to fight for the unity of workers—Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim—in a common struggle to oppose the US war drive and secure basic democratic and social rights by abolishing capitalism. The SEP fights for a Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and Eelam as an integral part of the struggle for a Union of Socialist Republics of South Asia and internationally.

  25. Ananda-USA Says:

    BTW, please note that I DO NOT SHARE the CLASS STRUGGLE views of the writer Pani Wijewardene of the above article on the proposal to Devolve Power to Tamils by the present GOSL.

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