Comments on President Sirisena’s special statement
Posted on July 24th, 2015

By Neville Ladduwahetty Courtesy Island

President Sirisena in his special statement on July 14, 2015, said: “… my sole interest in the next election result would not be about which party will receive majority votes out of 225 coming to Parliament, but about making sure the agenda that I promised to the people on January 8th will be taken forward with the support of the parliament. All my decisions have been made with regard to making sure that goal is achieved”.

The President should realise that without the support of Parliament the system does not work under provisions for separation of powers. This dependence is an inherent feature of the Executive Presidential system. In such a system the Executive powers are exercised by the President and the Legislative powers are exercised by Parliament. Therefore, the President has to depend on the support of Parliament to achieve his goals.

This support is assured when the government in power is from the same political party as the President. When the government in power is politically different to that of the President, passing legislation requires the support of the Opposition. Such a situation is compounded when the government in power in addition to being politically different to that of the President, is also numerically small (e.g. UNP) and a numerically large party that is politically affiliated with the President (UPFA) is in the opposition. Under these circumstances, no legislation could be passed without the support of the opposition. This was the situation in Sri Lanka before Parliament was dissolved.

PRE-ELECTION BACKGROUND

Since Mr. Sirisena was elected President with the support of the UNP the expectation was that the bulk of the UPFA would join the President in forming a UNP/UPFA Government. Such a government would have been possible if 47 UNP members joined up with the rump of the 142 members of the UPFA. Since the majority of such a coalition was with the UPFA the post of Prime Minister should have been from the UPFA since such a person would enjoy the confidence of Parliament as called for in the Constitution. Under such a set up the President would have been assured of the Parliamentary support needed for him to pass legislation relevant to his agenda.

However, a UNP/UPFA Government with a Prime Minister from the UPFA did not materialize because of a pre-election agreement between the President and the UNP that obligated the President to appoint Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister. This resulted in a minority government made up of 47 from the UNP and a few UPFA supporters of President Sirisena while the majority of the UPFA formed the opposition in Parliament. Under the circumstances, it would not have been possible for President Sirisena to pass the 19th Amendment and the Budget without the support of the UPFA in the opposition.

President Sirisena’s stated reason for dissolving Parliament was as follows:

“When the government was about to sink, with the no confidence motion on the Prime Minister, I dissolved the Parliament. The underlying hope of the no confidence motion on the Prime Minister, if it was brought forward to the Parliament, was for someone from the UPFA National List to resign and give that position to Mahinda Rajapaksa. When Mahinda Rajapaksa was able to come to Parliament, the plan was to defeat Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe through a no confidence motion and for the Rajapaksa faction to form their own government. I made sure that doesn’t happen.”

The President’s reasoning is seriously flawed because former President Rajapaksa could not have entered Parliament through the National List since his name was not on the 2010 Nationalist List with the Department of Elections. Therefore, under no circumstances could the former President have been a member of the last Parliament.

Had the President not dissolved Parliament the No Confidence motion would in all likelihood have been passed. The President could then have continued with a UPFA government without former President Rajapaksa and fulfilled his promises to the People. The fact that the President opted to dissolve Parliament was most likely to prevent embarrassment to the UNP. This must mean that his obligations to the UNP override his commitments to the people. The irony however is that by dissolving Parliament he has created an opportunity for former President Rajapaksa to contest the forthcoming election and participate in active politics in 2015 without having to wait until 2016, when Parliament completes its full term.

RUN-UP to the ELECTION

Article 5 of the 19th Amendment states: “It shall be the duty of the President to – on the advice of the Election Commissioner to ensure the creation of proper conditions for the conduct of free and fair elections and referenda”.

Whether President Sirisena was influenced by Article 5 or not he has declared that he would “… remain in a neutral position during the upcoming election”. However, as leader of the SLFP and also of the UPFA, President Sirisena would be expected to actively participate to secure the best outcome for the UPFA at the upcoming election. Such participation would clash with the constitutional need for neutrality. Under these conflicting circumstances, constitutional provision must necessarily take precedence over Party obligations.

Since President Sirisena cannot divest his constitutional obligations his only option is to divest his responsibilities and functions as the leader of the SLFP and UPFA. This means President Sirisena should not be associated with any activities of the UPFA Executive Committee or make statements that could be interpreted as being partial to any party/coalition contesting the election. By divesting his responsibilities as leader of the SLFP and the UPFA in order to remain neutral, he would be making a virtue of a constitutional necessity.

POST ELECTION

President Sirisena also stated that “… I do not wish to give Mahinda Rajapaksa the position of Prime Minister”. What needs to be appreciated is that the system works when the post of Prime Minister is assigned to one from the largest party/coalition which in this instance was the UPFA since they had a 142 member majority. Such a majority enables legislation to be passed without depending on the support of the opposition. On the other hand, a Prime Minister from a minority coalition such as the UNP would have to depend on the UPFA majority in the Opposition to pass any legislation; as demonstrated with the 19th Amendment and the Budget. In addition, the process of selection of a Prime Minister should not be the personal choice of the leader of a political party. Instead, it should be according to the provisions laid out in that party’s Constitution. In the case of the UPFA it should be the 72 member Executive Committee that should ultimately decide who would be the Prime Minister, and who should be nominated to contest the forthcoming election. This is an elementary aspect of democratic practice.

The concepts outlined above explain the logic of the Constitutional provision that the Prime Minister should be one that enjoys the confidence of Parliament. In this regard it should be noted that appointing Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe as Prime Minister was a violation of the Constitution because he was the head of a minority government that relied on the opposition to get any legislation passed due to the fact that he did not enjoy the confidence of Parliament. Therefore, even if the views of President Sirisena are taken into consideration as leader of the UPFA, the person selected to be Prime Minister has to satisfy the Constitutions of the UPFA and Sri Lanka. Under these circumstances, the President’s statement that he does “not wish to give Mahinda Rajapaksa the position of Prime Minister” should be treated as a non-binding wish.

CONCLUSION

President Sirisena could have accomplished his goals if he formed a UPFA government with a UPFA Prime Minister and a Cabinet of Ministers. Forming such a government was not possible because of his pre-election agreement with the UNP. This agreement required him to appoint Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe as Prime Minister. In the absence of the rump of the UPFA joining the 47 UNP members in Parliament the government that was formed could not pass any legislation on its own accord. Consequently, the President Sirisena had to prevail on the UPFA in the opposition to pass the 19th Amendment and the Budget and proclaim both as major achievements.

The UPFA saw its role as a mere rubber stamp to authenticate actions of a UNP led minority government. The unacceptability of this situation coupled with the Central Bank Bond scam compelled the UPFA to initiate a No-Confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe. The President had two options. One was to appoint a UPFA government and keep his promises to the People and the other was to dissolve Parliament to prevent embarrassment to the UNP and its leadership. By opting for the latter he disclosed where his priorities were. It certainly was not to keep his promises to the people despite his repeated claims to that effect.

President Sirisena has declared that he would take a neutral position as far as the forthcoming election was concerned. Such neutrality should prevent him from actively participating in election related activities despite being the leader of the SLFP and the UPFA. Furthermore, the need to stay neutral is a constitutional requirement. Therefore, since the constitutional duties should override party obligations, the President should resign from his position as leader of the SLFP and the UPFA. Not to do so and continue to participate in the Executive Committee activities of both parties such as nominations etc., clearly violates the neutrality required of a President in the Constitution.

 

7 Responses to “Comments on President Sirisena’s special statement”

  1. Cerberus Says:

    Bravo Mr. Ladduwahetty, You have shown with impeccable logic how illogical Sirisena’s actions are as President. He says one thing but does something else. The sooner Sirisena resigns from SLFP and UPFA as leader of the party the better it will be for Sri Lanka and the formation of a stable Government. SLFP leadership must act quickly to rid it self of this unstable leader.

  2. Siri Says:

    The facts have been very well explained by Mr Neville Ladduwahetty. It is time for the President Sirisena to think what he is going to do if the UNP does not get a clear majority. Maybe later on it is possible that he could be impeached for his actions in ignoring the Central Bank Bond Issue.

    Sirisena is a weak leader placed in the Presidency by Western Powers who want someone they can control. The sooner the country gets rid of this man the better it will be for the Nation.

  3. dhane Says:

    President dissolved Parliament to save Ranil Wickramasinghe and jeopardizing A Level students. How selfish both Sira & MR???

  4. Sarath W Says:

    To me it is obvious MY3 can not make any decisions on his own as he is controlled by Ranil and modi Chandrika. Ranil and the modi Chandrika made that deal with MY3 on behalf of India and the west and MY3 fell for it thinking he will never win the presidency. Some how with the finances from the western embassies and possible help from the election commissioner the unholy trinity managed to achieve the impossible. Now if MY3 goes against his keepers he will be exposed and will be the end of his presidency.

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    There is a CONCERTED EFFORT to ONCE AGAIN propagate BAREFACED LIES and UNSUBSTANTIATED DEFAMATORY ALLEGATIONS against President Mahinda Rajapaksa by his opponents on the EVE of theParlamentary ELECTION on August 17, 2015.

    One example is the allegation that the Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa attempted to hit a man (lated found to be intoxicate) who had grabbed his arm at a recent political rally.

    The attitude is: LET us say WHATEVER OUTRAGEOUS LIE we can CONCOCT NOW, and make IMPOSSIBLE ELECTION PROMISES NOW, and somehow WIN the ELECTION, and then we can VANISH into the WOODWORK, where no one will be able to find and hold us responsible … AFTER the ELECTION is won.

    That is largely what they did to WIN THE Presidential Election on January 8, 2015 … accusing MR of UNLIMITED CORRUPTION and MINIMIZING his accomplishment on behalf of our Motherland.

    We saw that ourselves in the ATROCIOUS BEHAVIOR at LankaWeb of that LTTE Operative LORENZO, now posing as a PATRIOT supporting MR hoping to repeat the process at the last moment. That is WHY I am doing as MUCH as I can to keep our MEMORY of his PREVIOUS ANTICS alive at LankaWeb, as long as he blogs here.

    After the Presidency was WON by Somarama Sirisena, much of the 100-day Program that was promised, was been ABANDONED.

    Let me ITEMIZE some of these:

    1. The financial salary and benefit incentives that were offered to bribe the voters have proved to be impossible to give and maintain in effect, for it would bankrupt the nation … the money is just not there.

    2. The promised reduction in the prices of staple foods and other essentials had to be retracted as the costs to government skyrocketed. Now with economic activity in the nation disrupted by all the uncertainty and foolish uncoordinated policies implemented post-election, the inflation in the cost of living is much higher than before. Are the people better off now? No they are not.

    3. The Western Powers who egged them on pre-election (read IMF and World Bank) backed-out and denied the loans sought by the UNP govt to replace the Chinese loans they had alleged were obtained at very high interest rates. Now they had to eat crow and keep the loans from China which the UPFA GOSL negotiated at a time NO LENDER would underwrite Sri Lanka’s development at any price.

    4. The infrastructure development projects that were halted under various allegations of impropriety and corruption and lacking sound financial planning, are one by one being restarted as they begin to find that those allegations of corruption were false, the plans are economically sound, and by halting them they are putting people (read as VOTERS in the next election) out of work … for no reason … except jealousy and need to undermine MR and the UPFA.

    5. They could not carry through most of the “Yahapalanaya” Constitutional Amendments because they simply did not have the necessary votes in the Parliament. In fact, they had to terminate the Parliament early and call for new elections to PREVENT a NO-CONFIDENCE motion against Ranil which would have resulted in his ouster. The UNP in desperation urged Somarama Sirisena to dissolve the Parliament.

    6. In particular, Somarama Sirisena who had campaigned for the Presidency saying he DOES NOT WANT TO BE PRESIDENT beyond 100 days NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, and will step down IMMEDIATELY at the end of 100 days, has NOW CHANGED HIS MIND, and is DESPERATELY TRYING to hang on his position, even to the extent of OPPOSING the elimination of the Office of the President. What more can you expect from a hidden BACKSTABBER than a hidden LIAR?

    7. Somarama Sirisena now recognizes that with the passage 19th Amendment, he has LOST much of the powers of the Presidency, which have been TRANSFERRED to the position of PRIME MINISTER. Ranil in the meantime is enjoying and exercising those powers, and is quietly PUSHING Somarama Sirisena into powerless impotence by IGNORING him.

    Also, if MR captures the PM’s post, Sirisena fears that he will be in a worse pickle …. hence his DESPERATE unsuccessful FIGHT to DENY a SLFP/UPFA Nomination to MR, and THREATS that he will NOT APPOINT MR as the PM no matter how big he wins in the Parliamentary Election. That, by the way, is not his sole prerogative, because the person appointed must be supported by the vast majority of the MP to enable stable governance.

    Sirisena would rather survive with Ranil than cope with MR whom he BACKSTABBED after eating Appa with him the night before. Somarama Sirisena is caught between the DEVIL and the DEEP BLUE SEA … the INEVITABLE FATE of all TREACHEROUS DISHONORABLE BACKSTABBERS.

    8. In the meantime, it is OPEN power-grabbing SEASON for the Tamil and Muslim separatists, who are happily consolidating their grasp in the land areas where they are local majorities. The TNA is doing everything it can to make their GRASP on the NPC IRRREVERSIBLE … with an eye out for eventual separation from Sri Lanka.

    9. The “Yahapalanaya” con artistes who bitterly complained about lack of political freedom and harrasment under the MR/UPFA regime launched an UNPRECEDENTED WITCH HUNT of the leaders of the PREVIOUS REGIME, hitherto never seen in the History of Sri Lankan politics. So much for “Yahaplanaya”!

    10. Meanwhile, these very same “Yahapalanaya” miscreants appointed a slew of sleazy people with criminal records and allegations of crimes currently being adjudicated in the courts, to ministries and other important administrative positions. The best example is the Central Bank Governor Mahendran who allegedly started to loot the Central Bank and the National Treasury to benefit his relatives, while dear old Ravi accused of similar crimes, looks the other way. The investigative reports on these crimes are being suppressed and prevented from being released to the public before the upcoming election! They have MUCH TO HIDE …. hence the bitter battle being now fought t hang on to power.

    Is this the much balleyhooed YAHAPALANAYA that we were promised? Sounds more like a YAMAPALANAYA!

    I can go on and on about the OUTRAGEOUS ANTICS and MONUMENTAL FOLLIES of the players of the Yamapalanaya Bandwagon.

    These things MUST BE BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION of the VOTERS to PREVENT a REPETITION of that DAY OF INFAMY January 8, 2015 due to the UNCHALLENGED DISSEMINATION of MORE LIES to MISLEAD an UNINFORMED and GULLIBLE PUBLIC!

  6. Cerberus Says:

    Sirisena is supposed to have only 8th standard education at the Royal College Polonnaruwa, after which he is supposed to have done an agricultural course at Kundasale. He has then attended a course for a Diploma at Maxim Gorky Literature Insitute in Russia. He is not qualified to be a President of Sri Lanka. He gets all his advice from Ranil W and CBK. He seems to be like putty in their hands. They selected the perfect puppet for their dirty work on Jan 8’15. Sri Lanka is in real trouble with this guy at the top with the UNP advisors. His main qualification is that he attended Royal College at Pollonaruwa. Ranil W has a weakness for old Royalists never mind it is the one in Polonnaruwa.

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    MORE MUSCLE FLEXING by the Tiger Nominated Party (TNA) to MAXIMALLY EXPLOIT the General Election to achieve their DREAM of carving out a Tamil EELAM …. as BIG AS POSSIBLE …. from Sri Lanka!

    PATRIOTS! WAKE UP and VOTE for MR/UPFA to SAVE YOUR MOTHERLAND from DISINTEGRATION!

    ………………………….
    Sri Lanka Tamil party calls for power sharing, re-merger of North and East

    July 26, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) reiterated its demand for a power sharing arrangement in a unit of a re-merged Northern and Eastern provinces under a federal structure as it existed earlier.

    The TNA, in its manifesto released on Saturday said the Tamil People are entitled to the right to self-determination and the Tamil Speaking Northern and Eastern provinces are the historical habitation of the Tamil People and the Tamil Speaking Peoples.

    The coalition of four Tamil parties noted that the Tamil speaking Muslims in the two provinces will be entitled to be beneficiaries of all power-sharing arrangements in the North-East. “This will no way inflict any disability on any People,” the manifesto noted.

    TNA leader R. Sampanthan released the TNA election manifesto at a function held Saturday afternoon in Uduvil, Jaffna. The function has been organized by the TNA organizer for Jaffna and Vavuniya districts Mavai Senathirajah.

    The manifesto further called for devolution of power on the basis of shared sovereignty over land, law and order, enforcement of the law so as to ensure the safety and security of the Tamil People, socio-economic development including inter-alia health, education, higher and vocational education, agriculture, fisheries, industries, livestock development, cultural affairs, mustering of resources, both domestic and foreign and fiscal powers.

    The salient features of power sharing that are fundamental to achieving genuine reconciliation, lasting peace and development for all the Peoples of Sri Lanka also included the facilitation of direct foreign investment in the North-East resulting in new industries and employment opportunities being created for youth and setting up of avenues for tertiary education for those who cannot enter universities can pursue higher education in relevant fields.

    The TNA said it is firmly of the view that international auspices is inevitable to achieve permanent peace through genuine reconciliation.

    Emphasizing that accountability and reconciliation are fundamental to genuine and permanent peace in Sri Lanka, the manifesto sought fulfilment of the three resolutions adopted at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the release of the Report of the international investigation mandated by the March 2014 resolution in September 2015.

    The party said it is “strongly committed to the ascertainment of the truth which must be made public and known to all the peoples of this country, the Sinhalese, the Tamils, the Muslims and others.”

    In addition continuing to pursue a just and lasting political solution to the national ethnic question, the party said it will actively engage in addressing the immediate and current concerns of its People.

    The concerns the party would address include, among others, meaningful de-militarization, speedy resettlement of remaining displaced people in their original places, release of political prisoners held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), ascertaining the truth about the missing persons, and facilitating the return of over 100,000 Tamil refugees in South India.

    Furthermore, the TNA will undertake a comprehensive programme for the development of the North and the East including the creation of employment opportunities for the youth with the active support of the Sri Lankan State, the Tamil Diaspora and the International Community.

    The party will implement a comprehensive development programme in the North-East, including upgrading the Palali airport as an international airport, and developing sea ports and fisheries harbors.

    The party will also find solutions for the challenges faced by their fishermen in freely pursing their vocation and make every effort to improve their livelihood.

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