By Rajan Philips –
The President and the Prime Minister know that they are up the creek. They have run out of their Mattala runway. They cannot stay in their powerless positions any longer than the time needed to perform the last rites for their dead government.
The two brothers must announce their resignation to become effective as soon as parliament meets and elects an MP to be sworn in by the Chief Justice as interim President. Parliament must also resolve to allow the interim President to form a caretaker government and call for election.
This is the only constitutional and orderly way out for the Rajapaksa family. Nothing else will work.
A BIG RELIEF FOR THE WHOLE COUNTRY.
The establishment has simply folded up. The army has confirmed to world’s ambassadors that it will stand by the Constitution. No surprise there. People’s power is surging everywhere. Far flung from every nook and corner of the island to every corner of the world where Sri Lankans are living.
The once unassailable government majority in parliament is whittling down by the minute. Today (Tuesday) will be the most momentous sitting ever of parliament in Sri Lanka’s modern history.
If the President has not resigned by then, parliament can and must pass a resolution declaring his removal from office. There is no constitutional provision for it. None needed when backed up by the united will of an aroused people.
Parliament’s second act, and this is provided in the constitution, will be to elect one of its members to become the interim President and succeed the outgoing President. Parliament should proceed to assert its supremacy and expressly empower the interim President to form a caretaker government, to dissolve parliament, and to conduct parliamentary election as provided for in the constitution.
The caretaker government will have only two critical tasks to perform until a new parliament is convened and a new government is formed. One would be to arrange bridge financing through the IMF, as well as bilateral and multilateral arrangements, to ensure steady supplies of essentials. The second would be to select a team of genuine experts and delegate them to enter into negotiations with the IMF to formulate programs that will restore economic fundamentals without diminishing people’s welfares.
Those who are opposed to going to the IMF can join Nivard Cabraal and shut up.
Others will have the opportunity to present their policies and platforms to the people and canvass for their votes. There are miles to go to reach normalcy, but the people have taken the important first step. Seeing off the Rajapaksas!
The President is reported to have informed political parties that “he will not step down from the Presidency but will hand over the government to whoever that holds 113 seats in Parliament.” This is untenable. If Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa is insistent on holding on as President, he will have to do more than “inform political parties.” He has to say that directly to the people who elected him directly, but who now directly want him to leave.
To say that “he is ready to hand over the government to whichever party that proves to hold 113 seats in Parliament today,” is also meaningless. How can he “hand over the government” to anyone while remaining President with all the bells and whistles of the presidency? The President is the Head of State, Head of Government, and the Head of Cabinet. How can he “hand over the government” without resigning?
And everyone in parliament also wants him gone. The people want him gone. The public protests are an act of impeachment. The verdict of the impeachment in the people’s court cannot be clearer. 113 MPs in parliament cannot negate the people’s verdict against the President and the government. They must both go. And let the constitution through the agency of parliament work out the details.