Let people decide
Posted on November 5th, 2018

The Editorial Courtesy The Island

The crisis situation has taken a turn for the worse with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya refusing to recognise the newly formed government until it proves that it commands the confidence of Parliament. The President’s side insists that the Speaker is not constitutionally empowered to do so and he is overstepping his limits for political reasons.

The Speaker having thus placed himself on a collision course with the President, how the latter will react remains to be seen.

The Speaker previously announced that seating arrangements in Parliament had been made in keeping with the appointment of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. What made him change his mind a few days later and issue a statement, which runs counter to his previous position?

The Attorney General has refrained from expressing his opinion on the change of government in response to Speaker Jayasuriya’s request. On whose advice has the Speaker acted in challenging the President’s discretionary powers? An explanation is called for.

The genesis of the present crisis is traceable to the change of government in Jan. 2015, when President Sirisena appointed the then Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, who had only 47 seats, as Prime Minister, though the ousted Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne commanded a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Nobody made an issue of the fact that PM Wickremesinghe had no majority in the House. Later, in the run-up to the general election in that year, President Sirisena, in an address to the nation, declared that he would not appoint Mahinda Rajapaksa Prime Minister even if the UPFA won the polls.

Rajapaksa contested as the UPFA’s prime ministerial candidate, but nobody said that the President was wrong in threatening not to appoint Rajapaksa PM even in case of the latter being able to command the confidence of the majority of MPs in Parliament. The President’s declaration at issue stood the UNP in good stead in that it demoralised the SLFP voters beyond measure. The present-day critics of President Sirisena defended him to the hilt as regards his actions and statements at that time as they helped advance their political agenda. They would have had some credibility today and been able to convince the public if they had defended democracy consistently without being swayed by their political affiliations, in the past. The SLPP and its allies are defending the very presidential action they condemned vehemently as undemocratic about three and a half years ago.

Strangely, why hasn’t the Supreme Court been consulted so far on the present situation? What matters in respect of a constitutional issue is not the opinion of UNP or SLFP lawyers or the members of the Colombo-based diplomatic community but that of the apex court, which alone can interpret the Constitution officially. The people are watching Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark!

If the parties to the ongoing dispute are of the view that they can handle constitutional issues themselves with the assistance of their legal consultants, then what is the Supreme Court there for?

Ad hoc measures that both sides to the dispute have adopted in dealing with the current constitutional issue will only enfeeble democracy further and plunge the country into anarchy. The SLPP-UPFA combine yesterday held a rally near Parliament by way of an answer to the UNP’s recent show of strength near Temple Trees. The signs are that the issue will spill over on to the streets.

Meanwhile, there has been a call for a general election. This is a sensible suggestion in that the people did not give any party a working majority in Parliament at the last parliamentary election and the country is on the throes of a crisis. People are the best judges.

2 Responses to “Let people decide”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    Yes, INDEED, Call a General Election as soonn as possible; within 3 months! Let the VOTERS DECIDE in the best tradition of Democracy!

    NO ONE, not even the JAUNDICED Western Powers who FRAUDENTLY CLAIMM to be the Champions of Democracy can QUESTION the DEMOCRATIC DECISION of the VOTERS at the hustings!

  2. Nimal Says:

    People have decided to elect undesirables in 1915and now must wait till the next election to change the guard and no getting to power through the back door should be allowed.

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