By Arun Kumaresan –
The events on Oct 26th, which has been termed as a “constitutional coup”, which came as a rude surprise to all who cherish democracy and believe in a public mandate that dictates the functions of the parliament; within the framework of the explicit provisions of our constitution, appropriate standing orders and conventions. These rules and conventions are deep rooted in our 70years of democratic traditions flowing from the “Westminster model”, which has been zealously protected by the HONOURABLE MEMBER who wore the cloak & held the Office of the SPEAKER.
The current act by the President who took the ‘Oath of Office’ to protect and uphold the constitution has created a controversy that suggests he has violated the solemn oath. This is further amplified as Hon’ble Attorney General (AG) was constrained from giving an opinion. It goes without saying, if the act of the President was “constitutional”, AG would have made a call, which would have made your task much easier. It is of public knowledge that AG has advised on the same roughly four months ago, which prevented the President from taking a similar action as that of 26th of Oct and instead led to a “ NO Confidence Motion” against the sitting Prime Minister. What was unconstitutional then cannot become constitutional now.
Hon’ble Speaker as the custodian of the legislature, it is time for you to act to protect the people’s mandate in a functional democracy. The democracy in Sri Lanka now hangs in your mature wisdom. We do not want the current divisions of opinion to become a conflict and threaten the peaceful co existence. We also do not want coups & counter coups. We also do not want the Members of Parliament to become auction able entitles, similarly to the era of slavery; making the legislature an auction yard.
As per the media, it appears that your request to the President to convene the parliament has not materialized and even a MP couple of hours ago have suggested it as the 16th of November as originally planned. Hence Hon’ble Speaker, the ball is now in your court; ACT NOW & ACT FAST.
Summon a meeting in the presence of the leading members of the Clergy, Diplomatic corps. Civil society & party representative at the office of the speaker or at your official residence, as early as this Sunday (4th Nov) and give a ruling on the following:
1. Was the act appointing a Prime Minister by the President is constitutional?
2. Was the act by the President in proroguing the parliament followed the due protocol and conventions? and,
3. Announce the date of convening the parliament under special circumstances to make your ruling in the floor of the house.
Whatever your determination becomes FINAL and it will resolve the confusion that is dividing the populace of Sri Lanka. In the event the act by the President is unconstitutional you may also make an announcement at this meeting that the status quo prior to 28th of Oct is legitimate to assist the public officers to act accordingly.
This is not about UNP or SLFP nor Ranil Wickramasinge or Mahinda Rajapaksa. It is only about the constitutionality of actions, whether it is democratic or undemocratic.
Hon’ble Speaker – “ACT NOW & ACT FAST”. You will be remembered forever for protecting “DEMOCRACY” in Sri Lanka.
N.B: It is kindly requested those who have direct communication with the Hon’ble Speaker, please share this note.