The illegal Government of President Sirisena, is tying itself into knots as it tries to justify the illegal and unconstitutional sacking of Parliament last Friday night is readying to inform foreign governments that the dissolution of Parliament was a result of Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s actions.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has circulated a memo to all Sri Lanka’s embassies overseas about how to ‘spin’ the dissolution – pinning the entire blame on the Speaker’s actions – after President Sirisena reneged on his word to dozens of foreign diplomats based in Colombo about reconvening parliament.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs now run by de facto Minister Sarath Amunugama issued a “most urgent” memo from the Minister and signed by the Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha to all its diplomatic outposts across the world. The memo sent the gazette notification about the dissolution and the relevant constitutional provisions empowering the President to dissolve Parliament had already been sent to the Sri Lankan embassies.
It then goes on to direct diplomats based in Sri Lankan embassies around the world about how to relay the information to all state and non state actors in foreign countries. An excerpt of the memo follows (see full text below):
“The reason for the President’s decision was the state of uncertainty that prevailed regarding the anticipation of the behaviour of the Speaker of Parliament.
The Attention of the President was drawn to the information that contrary to the constitution and standing orders of parliament the Speaker without due authority was attempting to change parliamentary procedures and not proceeding with the statement of Government policy that was to be delivered by his Excellency the President on 14th November 2018 on which date Parliament was to be reconvened by Gazette Notification.
There have been several requests to call for a General Election so that the wishes of the people who are ultimately the repositories of the sovereignty of the country could be addressed.
Please make it absolutely clear to all concerned, that this is a democratic act so that the people’s wishes regarding the composition of the Government could be given effect to.
In the coming days, we will follow up with further information regarding the procedure which will be set in motion by the National Elections Commission, through the Elections Commissioner.
Public opinion in Sri Lanka is very much in favour of an election which will resolve the political crisis which hampered activities of the country in the past few months.
Please ensure that this information is conveyed to all state and non state actors in your countries of accreditation.
It is requested that you personally undertake this task and report back to the Secretary/Foreign Affairs on a daily basis, on any statements made in capitals and reportage of events in Sri Lanka in your country/countries of accreditation, along the lines laid out last week.” [ENDS]
The memo from the Ministry also refers to an “Elections Commissioner” even though no such position exists any longer – all functions of the Elections Department and Commissioner of Elections now being vested with a three –member independent Election Commission through the 19th Amendment, which only has a chairman who presides at meetings of the Commission, but does not hold any more power than any of the other two commissioners.
“It is expected that he will now proceed to act accordingly,” the Ministry memo states – although it is not clear who the Ministry refers to as the “Elections Commissioner”. Observers fear this may be further indication that Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya – a long time Government bureaucrat – has capitulated before the Government Gazette notification dissolving Parliament, in spite of strong protests by the other two members of the Commission who insist the dissolution is illegal and there are therefore no vacant seats of Parliament for the Commission to hold an election to fill.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has hit back strongly against Government moves to blame him for the illegal sacking of Parliament, saying that at no point did any member of Parliament call on him to disallow the President’s throne speech, or statement of Government policy. The assertion in the MFA statement, based on which Lankan diplomats overseas will brief foreign governments is therefore a falsehood.
Jayasuriya in a strongly worded letter issued on Sunday night said some members of the purported Government of President Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa were claiming he could be thrown in jail for his actions. Insisting that as custodian of the rights and privileges of members of parliament, he had to abide by the will of the majority of members – 124 at the last count – his letter said – and allow a floor vote to determine which prime minister commanded the confidence of the House. “It has been my privilege to stand up to the executive, defend the rights of Parliament, the supremacy of the constitution and the sovereignty of the people” Jayasuriya said.