Chairman of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris alleges timing meant to influence electorate Prez seeking SC clarification over 6-year term
Posted on January 12th, 2018

by Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

Chairman of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday alleged that President Maithripala Sirisena was making an obvious attempt to sharply influence the electorate in the run-up to the Feb 10 local government polls by seeking confirmation of the original six-year presidential term.

Prof Peiris said it should be a matter for concern for the National Election Commission (NEC) and all those election monitoring bodies wanting a level playing field.

Prof. Peiris said so when The Island asked him whether the SLPP would make representations to the NEC as regards President Sirisena seeking Supreme Court opinion on the impact of the 19 Amendment adopted in 2015 April on the six-year term.

The Joint Opposition (JO) has nominated candidates for local government elections through the SLPP and was seriously concerned over the way the SLFP leader manipulated the electoral process. Prof. Peiris asserted that President Sirisena’s move on behalf of the SLFP was meant to entice staunch supporters who had switched allegiance to the JO/SLPP.

NEC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya declined to comment on President Sirisena’s decision to seek Supreme Court opinion as stipulated in the Constitution. Deshapriya said so when The Island sought his response to Prof. Peiris’ allegations directed at the President. However,those who had asserted that it would be advantageous to the SLFP in case the Supreme Court decided to grant President Sirisena original six year term were silent on the possibility of the apex court deciding otherwise, Deshapriya said.

Prof. Peiris said that had President sought opinion of the SC soon after assuming the presidency there wouldn’t have been an issue. The academic said that the JO/SLPP were seriously concerned about the president’s move and hoped polls monitors would take up this issue.

Responding to a query, Prof. Peiris pointed out that the NEC warned local government polls candidates against unauthorized display of posters and banners whereas a major political party received undue favours at the expense of others in the fray.

Prof. Peiris said President Sirisena’s move was certainly not to the liking of his major partner, the UNP as the latter obviously didn’t want to face the next parliamentary polls scheduled for 2020 August under Sirisena’s watch.

Authoritative political sources told The Island that president’s move had surprised the coalition partners and placed ongoing constitution making process in difficulty. Sources said the move not being challenged by coalition members shouldn’t be construed as tacit consensus among them.

Attorney-at-law Nagananda Kodituwakku yesterday strongly criticized the SLFP’s move in a live Sirasa Pathikada programme. Responding to host Bandula Jayasekera, Kodituwakku said that it couldn’t be endorsed under any circumstances as the President repeatedly promised to abolish the executive presidency.

Civil society activist and Convener of the National Movement for a Just Society Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya told The Island that yahapalanaya had suffered irrevocable setback due to the President’s move. Prof. Wijesuriya said that they were taken aback by the move that would undermine the very basis of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration. Wijesuriya, who took over the grouping in the aftermath of Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha’s demise, said that a move to extend executive presidency even by a day wasn’t acceptable.

Prof. Peiris alleged that the SLFP had been placed in an extremely difficult situation, politically, in the wake of breakdown of talks with the JO/SLPP, hence various strategies to strengthen itself.

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