A group of senior legal practitioners have pledged their support to the common candidate at the upcoming Presidential polls, as the common opposition movement he leads has pledged to restore democracy and good governance in the country.
The Conveners of the Lawyers’ Collective, Lal Wijenayake, Chandrapala Kumarage and JC Weliamuna releasing a statement to announce their stance that was decided at the Executive Meeting held on November 24, have pointed out that they decided to support the common candidate since he has pledged to:
· Abolish the Executive Presidential system and establish a parliamentary system of government
· Re-enact 17th amendment
· Restore democracy, good governance and establish a society where people can live as free citizens in a free society
They have pointed out that the deep social and political crisis in the result of significant powers being vested in a single person under the Execrative Presidential system and has pointed out that although the abolition of the Executive Presidency is not the solution to all social, economic and political issues, they believe it would create necessary democratic space for to engage in finding solutions to the prevalent issues.
We publish below the statement in full;
The Executive Committee of ‘Lawyers Collective’ at its meeting held on 24th November unanimously revolved as follows:
‘Lawyers Collective’ which emerged as an umbrella organization of several lawyers associations when the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa introduced to Parliament the infamous, scandalous, impeachment motion in Parliament, to impeach the 43rd Chief Justice. ‘Lawyers Collective’ has throughout uncompromisingly and steadfastly stood for Rule of Law, independence of the Judiciary and protection of human rights.
We are a nation that has a long history of democratic governance where democratic values were respected and where there was space for dissent and diversity.
In the past, our country was accepted as a model democracy and we won the respect and affection of the international community. Through the democratic process we were able to build a welfare state where social justice prevailed.
What we see today is the total dismantling of the system that prevailed. We see a complete breakdown of Rule of Law, independence of the judiciary and respect for human rights, and the welfare state based on social justice has disappeared.
We are of the view that the deep social, economic and political crisis that we face today is mainly due to the enormous powers vested in one person under the Executive Presidential System. Adoption of the 18th amendment has created an authoritarian state stinking with corruption and family rule where one family controls the political power and economic resources of the country.
We cannot even think of reversing this trend unless we abolish the Executive Presidential System. Though we do not envisage that the abolition of the Executive Presidential System is the solution to all social, economic and political problems facing the country, we believe that it will create the necessary democratic space for us to engage in finding solutions to our problems.
Lack of accountability at all levels of government is of serious concern to us.
For these reasons we resolve to support the candidature of the Opposition Common Candidate, who with number of opposition political has pledged to
(1) abolish the Executive Presidential System and to establish a Parliamentary System of Government where the executive power vest with the Prime Minister and a Cabinet accountable to Parliament.
(2) re-enact the 17th amendment.
(3) restore democracy, good governance and establish a society where we can live as free citizens in a free society, free of fear.
Conveners : Lal Wijenayake, Chandrapala Kumarage, JC Weliamuna