NATIONAL PEACE COUNCIL
PRESIDENTIAL ACTIONS MUST NOT MAKE MOCKERY OF SRI LANKA’S CONSTITUTION
The recent actions of President Maithripala Sirisena, in particular the abrupt sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe on October 26, proroguing Parliament in an attempt to engineer crossovers to the newly appointment Prime Minister’s side to enable him to prove majority support in the House, and the subsequent dissolution of Parliament on November 10 have plunged Sri Lanka into serious political and economic crises.
We believe that these steps have defied the provisions of the 19th Amendments to the Constitution enacted in 2015 which was specifically intended to reduce the powers of the presidency, prohibit the dismissal of the prime minister outside of three specific reasons, and prevent the dissolution of parliament until four and a half years of its term had lapsed.
We are shocked and disapprove of the President’s action in taking the extreme steps of both sacking the Prime Minister and dissolving Parliament in the absence of Supreme Court interpretation of the clear wording and intentions of the 19th Amendment. These drastic actions cannot be condoned as being in the interests of a law-governed state. Nor can they be justified by claiming that the sovereignty of the people permits the overriding of clauses of the constitution with impunity.
The National Peace Council is concerned that the course of action undertaken by the President will give a precedent to extra-constitutional acts in the future. As citizens of Sri Lanka we are proud of our country’s long democratic history in which power has always been transferred from one government to another according to the prevailing law in a legitimate manner. We value the Rule of Law and the supremacy of the Constitution, the procedures and conventions of Parliament and transparent and accountable transition.
We fear the collapse of a law-governed state which is the prerequisite for national unity and development. At the elections of 2015 the mandate was for democracy, against corruption and abuse of power and it is tragic that if we have to repeat it today in 2018 we will have to do so with an admission that we have lost three years in history.
We therefore call upon political parties, civil society, the courts of law and the people to uphold the Rule of Law and Constitution. The democratic space experienced during the past three years needs to be consolidated to build and sustain a democratic, pluralistic and reconciled Sri Lanka for future generations.