3 October, 2022

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A President In Hiding Is No President

By Reeza Hameed

Dr. Reeza Hameed

The popular uprising against the Rajapaksa regime started with the demand for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mahinda Rajapaksa to his credit saw the writing on the wall and quit, but Gotabaya Rajapaksa did not. The President appointed MP Ranil Wickremesinghe who entered Parliament through the nominated list to fill the vacancy caused by Mahinda Rajapaksa’s resignation, inviting the people’s ire against Ranil Wickremesinghe as well.

The people took to the streets on 9 July demanding the resignation of both Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickremesinghe storming the President’s House and the Presidential Secretariat. Gotabaya Rajapaksa went into hiding.

According to a BBC report of Monday 11 July, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe‘s office said in a statement it had been informed by Mr Rajapaksa that he would step down on Wednesday 13 July. The Speaker told the BBC on Monday 11 July that the President had left Sri Lanka and was in a nearby country and that the latter would submit his resignation on 13 July. The Speaker later retracted his statement made to the BBC that the President had left the island.

In the meantime, as was reported, the party leaders met to reach agreement on finding a replacement for Gotabaya Rajapaksa whose resignation was expected on 13 July. Gotabaya Rajapaksa did not resign on 13 July as he had promised. On that day, the Speaker made an announcement that Gotabaya Rajapaksa had left to a nearby country and that Gotabaya Rajapaksa, acting under Art 37(1) of the Constitution, had appointed the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to act for him.

Under Article 37(1) the President may appoint the Prime Minister to exercise the powers, duties, and functions of his office. He may make the appointment if he “is of the opinion that by reason of illness, absence from Sri Lanka or any other cause he will be unable to” exercise them himself. An appointment under this article of the constitution does not result in his resignation. For a vacancy to arise under Article 38(1) of the constitution, the President will have to tender his resignation from his office in writing to the Speaker. Instead of sending his resignation, he has absconded.

Appointment has to be temporary

The appointment of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as acting President was by a gazette extraordinary No 2288/19 of 13 July 2022.

The gazette extraordinary gives the President’s reason for the appointment as “my absence from Sri Lanka” and that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will exercise the powers duties and functions of the office of President “during such period of my absence from Sri Lanka.” The word “period” carries with it the notion of a length of time. The phrase “during such period” implies that the appointment has to be time specific, but there is no mention in the gazette extraordinary of the period for which the appointment has been made; “absence from Sri Lanka” is the reason for the appointment, not its duration. In order for the phrase “such period” to make sense, the gazette must mention a time period. It did not.

The appointment under Article 37(1) cannot be for an indefinite duration. It must be time specific. It is meant to fill a temporary absence abroad.

That the appointment under Article 37(1) has to be temporary is reinforced by a reading of Article 37(2) under which the Prime Minister may be appointed to act for the President if the Chief Justice is of the opinion that the President is temporarily unable to exercise the duties and functions of his office, and is unable to make an appointment under Article 37(1). In that case the Chief Justice may communicate his opinion to the Speaker, leading to the temporary appointment of the Prime Minister to act in place of the President during such period. It should follow that where the President is able to make an appointment, it should be a temporary appointment.

Differences of opinion may arise as to what is meant by “temporary” but, if the period is not specified, it is not possible to say whether the appointment is temporary.

No one knows for certain as to where the President is now or for how long he would be away from the country. The president of the country simply can not go away indefinitely, even if he appoints another to act in his place. His whereabouts cannot be a secret.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa has deserted his office and made himself incapable of exercising the duties and functions of his office. By his own admission, by going abroad, he has rendered himself unable to perform the functions of his office. In any other situation, a person who goes into hiding and is not available to discharge his functions would be deemed to have vacated his office.

By going into hiding the President has intentionally violated the constitution. Going into hiding is not one of the reasons for making an appointment under Article 37(1).

It is not known whether, and if so when, Gotabaya Rajapaksa would return to Sri Lanka. It is possible that the President may not return to Sri Lanka at all during the term of his office, as a member of the United Kingdom Parliament has on 13 July called for an international arrest warrant to be issued for the arrest of Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

In the final analysis, a president is required to be physically present in Sri Lanka to be able to effectively perform the functions of his office. He was elected to office, and the mandate given to him by the electorate is personal.

He is responsible to Parliament for the due exercise of the powers, duties, and functions of his office. As a member of the cabinet, he must attend cabinet meetings to discuss and decide on important matters of government policy. He has taken an oath of office to uphold the constitution, and that oath is not suspended, simply because he has appointed someone to act for him.

He cannot discharge his responsibilities under the constitution by laying on his back somewhere nobody knows or by sitting behind a laptop. The fact that he has to go into hiding in an unknown country is an indication that he cannot rely on his own service chiefs to guarantee his safety. Gotabaya Rajapaksa has effectively made himself a lame duck of a President.

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Latest comments

  • 20
    2

    If past history is any guide ……….. Sri Lanka will never have a leader ………. will always have a charlatan as the leader who will systematically destroy the country.

    You don’t have to pay Sumanadasa or Nana-akka to tell you that …………. take it; its free.

    • 20
      0

      Nimal, that’s because our voting public, especially the SB , do mot have the mental capacity or competence to make right choices .

      • 7
        3

        Now, the “leader” who wants to “rescue” the country ……… has reduced his own party to 0; singlehandedly …….. 40 years of experience doing it …….. that kind of stellar talent and experience is hard to come by, anywhere in the world ………


        Who did Ranil call Fascists?

        The ideal person to ask will be the English teacher Sinhala_Man.

        But he himself might be a Fascist. :))

        Dictionary/Wiki description —-> tolerates no oppositions: wants everyone else to shut up.

        Wants to handover everything to the JVP/NPP unopposed.

        By the time the JVP is through ……… the people will be praying for the Rajapakses to return

        And another day passes by ….. in the sunny island of paradise ……. to the last syllable of recorded time………..


        And tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow ………………

        • 9
          0

          Nimal, amazing isn’t it. Two vicious cycle synchronizing with each other for 75 years. .Literate , educated people voting for family members and their cronies (criminals, corrupt, thieves, rapist, drug peddlers, repeated offenders) election after election and they continuing with their apolitical activities. Do you think people have actually woken up to realize their role, in this self created mess or is it just a knee jerk reaction?? Regardless of personal suffering they preferred family kleptocracy, so to see the minority suffer. Hope Aragalaya stands by what they say.

    • 9
      0

      .
      This man came to make wonders. However man ‘s killing tactics were public secret…..
      .
      6.9 mio of fools voted for him. NO wonder my friends and relatives were among them… some of them were company directors and senior academics… most of them obtained their university degrees at LOCAL UNIVERISTIES…. their psychology was not subjected to any kind of evolutions.- Thinking nature of WElimada SUKUMALATHA and university educated SEELAWATHIE are sharing the same thinking pattern.
      If anyone would stand against them, would be attacked. Like they did it with me regarding SOUTHERN HIGH WAY -… many met me named it as ” RAJAPAKSHE WONDER MAKING”…. my argument was… if they ever heard about the road constructions in Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia…. since then they attacked me calling me a NGO man.. Some of them are still at Universtiy of Kelaniya and COlombo (senior lecturers)
      .
      Not even 25000 voted for UNP leader, since blatant lies spread by GOTABAYA media propaganda machines … they were all against UNPrs.destroying one giant party forever was their target…
      . their target was to marginalize UNPrs and grab power forever. That was successful by Nov 2019… now I hav eno doubt, that GOTA and his men were behind so called EASTER SUNDY BOMB blast…
      .

  • 3
    17

    The US citizen Gota and US puppet Ranil show is the other side of the Aragalaya Coin – they are all backed by and played by Uncle Sam! Why don’t the Aragalaya protest at the US embassy?! US citizen Basil who staged the default and Sovereign bond debt trap with Bondscam Ranil has fled now to the US and needs to be arrested.
    But the Aragalaya wont protest at the US embassy and some even support the IMF which is absurd since I have never heard of protestors anywhere in the world supporting the IMF!
    This shows that the Aragalaya is substantially controlled and gamed via social media by the CIA.. Otherwise they would have protested long ago at the American hands in the Lankan crisis!

    • 19
      1

      If anything, recent events have shown up Gota to be the coward he really is. This is the second time he ran away. The first time, he ran away to the US from the Army. If he wasn’t a coward, he could have held out with the support of the Forces.
      This is the result of voting in leaders on imaginary leadership qualities blown up by a conniving media.

      • 7
        0

        Your right this coward showed his true colours, Talked big when he had a rouge army around him, accusations are many from white vans to direct murders of media personnel as well as politicians and others.

      • 0
        1

        “…voting in leaders on imaginary leadership qualities blown up by a conniving media.”
        Do you have in mind the set of people that come to my mind?
        *
        But there is consolation:
        It happened in India, the US and UK not long ago.

    • 10
      0

      How much do we respect the truth? What have the Americans been doing in this crisis?
      .
      https://lankanewsweb.net/archives/11348/akd-meets-with-us-ambassador-chung/
      .
      Be honest! Whether one even clicks on that link or not depends on one’s unconscious inclinations and prejudices.
      .
      Who wanted such a meeting? Where did it take place?
      .
      https://www.themorning.lk/jvp-holds-discussions-with-us-ambassador-julie-chung/
      .
      All sorts of yarns are spun, but how many cared to read?

      • 0
        1

        “How much do we respect the truth?”

        Ah truth! Tell me about it!

        If you accept the “truth” of the Oxford dictionary ……… do you accept the “truth” that you are a Fascist? :))

        That’s what’s wrong with blooming teachers ……… they take everything literally


        She is just trying to sweet-talk them into refrain from their traditional/customary Fascism and violence …….. so ol’ Ranil can get a foothold ………..

        Or do you believe the US cares about Lanka, Democracy, fair-play , ordinary Lankans, the poor, morals, ethics …………. and Santa Clause?

  • 10
    3

    If the rumors are correct, it seems Sri Lanka’s failed president has resigned.

    It is up to the people of Sri Lanka to make sure we have leaders who do not have their own devious agendas. We do not need extreme political movements, nor do we need radical leaders to take advantage of this power vacuum to drag this country deeper into the abyss created by the last regime.

    The world is watching and if we show them we are unstable, and heading in the wrong direction, the help we so desperately need, will not be coming this way.. We have to put aside our idiotic national pride, which did not work well when the Rajapaksa’s were in power, unite as a nation, and show the rest of the world we are resilient, and will cooperate with those who are willing to help us, so that we can get back on our feet again.

  • 10
    1

    Re the statement, “Differences of opinion may arise as to what is meant by “temporary” but, if the period is not specified, it is not possible to say whether the appointment is temporary”, I suspect this rotten man will “regularise” his absence and keep extending the void by getting himself admitted to hospital for his “heart troubles and stress”.

    Poor, silly Lanka fools ……. tricked again by this ruthless and cunning criminal family!

    • 3
      0

      ES,
      .
      Long time no see, where had you been ?
      .
      SRILLANKENS would never be able to see it right. I was a diehard supporter to ARAGALAYA until those lads start demolishing those historically valuble buildings. Now I question myself what can those undergraduates have in their heads ? Why should we as the adults give them a chance if they are no better to JVPrs of 89 ?
      .
      I think it is high time people to stand against any kind of culprits. If they would have acted like that in Europe, those young men would not have been given any chance but would be imprisoned for a long period.

      • 0
        9

        leelagemalli,
        “Why should we as the adults give them a chance if they are no better to JVPrs of 89 ?”
        —-
        They are no better to JVPrs of 89 because these undergraduates are manipulated by JVP and Peratugami (former JVP) thugs who want to throw away the Constitution and impose ‘Law of the Jungle’ in this country because they know very well that they will never be able to rule this country. So, best thing for them is to destroy the young generation and the country. Hope Ranil will pack these traitors in one cell in Welikada.

    • 8
      1

      Dear Easton Scott,
      .
      So we all felt. Let us now be grateful that the leaders of the “Aragalaya” had the courage to keep going. They are our anonymous heroes.
      .
      The horrible Gota at least successfully tricked those whom you, rightly, refer to as “Poor, silly Lanka fools”. How many, in Novemeber 2019? 6,924,255 voters. Any idea how I gave you the exact figure.
      .
      Ranil Wickremasinghe didn’t even contest that election. When did he last contest for the Presidency? In 2005.
      .
      How is he in Parliament? The UNP contested the Parliamentary Elections on the 5th of august 2020.
      .

      • 8
        2

        It is true that 249,435 voted for the UNP, in all Districts, but the Preferences for Ranil in Colombo district are not known, not even counted because they were not getting a seat in that District, or in any district. The District votes for the UNP were counted (counted for all 22 Electoral Districts, but I don’t know how to find out the breakdown).
        .
        Contrast that with the 2,771,980 votes won by the SJB led by Sajith Premadasa.
        .
        And the 6,853,690 polled by the Rajapaksa-led Sri Lanka People’s Freedom Alliance.
        .
        Figures from where?
        .
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Sri_Lankan_parliamentary_election#Contesting_parties
        .
        And Ranil Wickremasinghe wants to complete Gota’s term – till when? Presumably until November 16th, 2024.
        .
        I don’t think that Sajith is suitable, either. Had Ranil allowed the Party to decide they may have picked a better Party Leader, but there was no democracy within the UNP.
        .
        The most suitable would be the 76-year-old non-entity Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, who will have no further political ambitions. He will keep the country running for, perhaps, six months, and then hold Parliamentary Elections. Closest parallel? D.B. Wijetunga; now not remembered, not criticised. Grave not vandalised. RIP.

      • 1
        1

        Just a word about my phrase “anonymous heroes”.
        .
        They are “anonymous” only in the sense that they came forward fearlessly in Sri Lanka, but their names and identities have not got registered in our minds, and their identities may not be be remembered when Histories are written.
        .
        On the other hand there are many who have contributed useful but inconsistent thoughts thoughts whilst being safely ensconced in prosperous First World Countries. Some of them are known to me; decent enough individuals, but unable to justify their stances, and begging that their identities be kept secret. Why? They are not running the risks that we in Lanka run.
        .
        See what the man using the handle “eeakdavi” has done below. Many of us know who he is; he was abroad, but he returned to this troubled island two weeks ago, and in the comment below, he has unambiguously identified himself.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V) of Bandarawela

        • 1
          0

          There are many YouTube of this sort:
          .
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNUvpyRZxg4
          .
          They are all in Sinhalese. Dear Tamil-speaking readers (I wouldn’t expect you to spend hours listening to all this), if I have any credibility with you, let me assure you that these people don’t ever spout racism.
          .
          They just don’t refer to racial differences – which is how it should be! I’ve already started on making a comparison between our efforts to replace Gota with Britain’s attempt to replace Boris. It is below Professor Kumar David’s article.
          .
          I’ve already given links to the electoral debates in London. But we have to note this difference: there is only one language there. We have, in a very real sense got three. And it is not easy to say goodbye to our two Swabashas. They are both highly developed languages after all; for me, although I don’t know any Tamil, it seems to be so clear that they have to be of equal standing. Tamil is much the older language, and much more important in the world; but Sinhala is spoken by greater numbers than citizens of Lanka.
          .
          tbc

        • 1
          0

          Continuing
          .
          The problems,
          dear Tamil brothers, is with us, Sinhalese. It may be owing to a sense of insecurity, but we just don’t seem able to discuss anything rationally. It is true that many Sinhalese have been egging our politicians to inspire State-sponsored colonisation and much else. Our crimes become very clear when we compare the demographics between that first census in 1881 with what obtains now.
          .
          All these discussions ought to be in the languages that 90% of our people are familiar with – Sinhala and Tamil. I often feel guilty when considering how ineffective our English teaching programme has been.
          .
          I’m conscious of these comments being in relation to a writer with a Muslim name. I know that he, and Mohamed Lukman Harees who also has a live article here, are extremely decent people, who keep religion to themselves. Muslim population-ratio expansion has not been phenomenal, but it has been worryingly steady. Actually, I wish that all humans on this planet would wake up to the fact that we have already exceeded what is fair by the planet as a whole in terms of our numbers.
          .
          Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V) of Bandarawela

    • 0
      1

      “Poor, silly Lanka fools ……. tricked again by this ruthless and cunning criminal family!”
      Let alone the fools, what do you appear to with your flights of fantasy?

  • 5
    1

    “The appointment of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as acting President was by a gazette extraordinary No 2288/19 of 13 July 2022.”

    When we look at all the events happened and happening in this country in the recent months, you don’t know what is going to happen in the next minute, who is telling the truth, who is our president, who is our president, what is our judiciary doing and what is the role of military and police etc. etc. Today, we have one person who is not elected by people as acting President and Prime Minister and Minister and Cabinet based on some information which cannot be verified True or False, while President is trying to escape the country using the official transport searching for asylum. Our constitutional experts just read the constitution which was amended 20 times using bribed votes to how the President can do all the crimes and bring bankruptcy to the country and still use his powers for his life.

  • 5
    0

    Once President resigned officillay, What will happen to Acting President who is now no more President? Is it the end of Ranil as President and Prime Minister?

    • 4
      0

      Ajith,
      The acting president will relinquish his acting part and revert to his substantive post as PM??
      then the process will start again, from that instant, with provision to meet situation when incumbent President vacates his Post??!!

      • 2
        0

        Thanks Mahila.

      • 1
        1

        M
        You seem to have answered a different question.
        Never mind, as long as the customer is happy.

  • 6
    0

    Dear Dr. Reeza Hameed,
    .
    Thanks for letting us know your thoughts, but, of course, by the time I’ve seen them the entire country (almost) knows that he’s emailed his resignation.
    .
    What worries us now is the future. Who will succeed (because somebody must), and for how long? Ranil Wickremasinghe has the audacity to say that he will “complete” Gota’s term. Will this fellow never get the message? I do feel sorry for the rare books, artifacts, antiques, and even the building that was destroyed, but not for this fellow who imagines that he was God’s great gift to Lanka.
    .
    We have to wait now for the 20th, when somebody will be elected, by secret ballot of the discredited 225, they say, with the possibility for them, too, to express second and their PREFERENCES. The most sensible choice?
    .
    How many even know what is meant by strategic and preferential voting? If I start a lecture on that nobody will read it. But 225?
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xniPFC-rNY4
    .
    That’s eleven minutes beautifully spoken in English, by a man whom few of us have heard of, but who significantly says that he usually communicates in Sinhalese.
    .
    Some ask me, Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela, why I have a racist sounding pseudonym. Good question, except that nobody will bother with my reasons!

    • 4
      0

      Thank you Sinhala_Man.

    • 0
      1

      Wikipedia has started a page for this 2022 Presidential Election, on the 13th of July:
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2022_Sri_Lankan_presidential_election
      .
      Comments here will cease tomorrow; for my subsequent comments see below this Kumar David article:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/oh-frabjous-day-calloo-callay/
      .
      PREFERENTIAL VOTING:
      .
      Important: use this opportunity to educate all our people, current adults, and children who will vote in the future, on how to vote strategically. Talk about it before the 20th.
      .
      Kumar wrote many articles on the subject before the 16th November 2019 Presidential Election. This is the last of them:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-irrelevance-of-gotas-sajiths-programmes/
      .
      Kumar was then urging readers to vote 1) for Anura Kumara and 2) for Sajith
      .
      To simplify his explanation, he was stopping at 2). Humble “Sinhala_Man” was following up most of the time, like Mary’s little lamb, by reporting that there really were THREE Preferences.
      .
      Very few readers could understand the process, and I feel that not even 2% of votes cast in 2019 would have had multiple choices.
      .
      But in this 2020 election, I find that, depending on the number of candidates, we could have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 . . . Preferences. More on that below Kumar’s current article.

  • 10
    0

    Rajapaksas after all were NOT the patriots of Sri Lanka. They had behaved like Mafia Gangsters who were EXPERTS in hoodwinking not only the citizens of the country but also the rest of the world. They gained maximally by creating FEAR between races as ell as between different religious groups.
    Tamils are pleased that this younger generation started the successful ARAGALAYA movement to dislodge the crooked Rajapaksas. I do hope none of the SLPP members + M.Sirisena will be in the INTERIM government.
    Tamils have to REMIND the Young generation of Aragalaya that had the Government of Ceylon of 1950s, had listen to the GRIEVANCES of minority Tamils that were protesting PEACEFULLY at the GALLE FACE GREEN, our country would NOT ENDED at the very bottom of the world.

    • 0
      7

      Naman,
      “…had listen to the GRIEVANCES of minority Tamils… “
      —-
      Grievances of minority Tamils or grievances of English educated Vellala Tamils who were the most privileged group in Sinhale at the time country gained independence? These guys did not care two hoots for the grievances of Dalits in Yapanaya or Tamils in tea plantations.

  • 4
    3

    “…will exercise the powers duties and functions of the office of President “during such period of my absence from Sri Lanka”
    That is pretty much standard phrasing.
    Let us not waste time deconstructing it.
    Take it easy, as it is doubtful that there is provision in the constitution for him to name his successor.

  • 3
    3

    SLPP MPs are still scared of a fugitive Gota.
    Does he hold so much control over these guys that he can manipulate them for exile?

  • 3
    0

    Dr. R.H, Nobody seems to get it that SL major problem is the executive president, arrogant and dictatorial, assuming they are a royal family that can rob the nation. Royal Queen of England, ruled for 70 years, and still citizens sing “God save the Queen” as she does not rob or dictate to the Parliament and Prime Minister. If our nation is to have peace, it must abolish the executive presidency which plays on many ambitious leader’s vain imaginations to try to be the EP, rather than serve the deceived and ignorant citizens who elected them. Neither will radical Marxism help as peratugami JVP agenda is to nationalise every thing to make all equal, rather than seek IMF or other help. Remember Marx fled to London, allowed to live in poverty for 35 years, was buried in Highgate cemetery, North London, and grave is often vandalised with red paint. It’s vital to be realistic.

  • 8
    1

    The most important point in the article is that Gotahbaya has vacated office; he has deserted post; that is undeniable. The Speaker and Parliament must take immediate steps to fill the vacancy.

    Kumar David (Prof)

    • 2
      0

      Thanks Prof David for pointing this out.

    • 1
      1

      “he has deserted post; that is undeniable. “
      Not really, he resigned and the resignation was accepted. That is the legal position.
      He nominated someone to look after the job, and that is not quite desertion.

  • 3
    0

    Foibles and assumptions and full of hypothesis

  • 6
    0

    Eagle Bu..er, where are you man. Now no more payment for you to run your racist e-neys from Melbourne. Soon you will bein the net.

    Ragarding Gota the moment this guy ran away for his life he ceased to be the president. The so-called constitution talks about a REAL president who is absent due to illness (even mental illness) or out of the country on official matter or holiday. This pathetic guy simply ran away hiding from his 6.9 million voters and thus what fu…g constitution some of these guys are talking of. The moment this guy got into the naval boat he ceased to be the president.

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