15 July, 2020

Blog

Impeach The Impeachers

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“It is therefore apparent that these charges are baseless and groundless… We hope that with the true facts being revealed, the public will realise the evil perpetrated on her.” The Interim Response by the lawyers of the Chief Justice (quoted in the Colombo Telegraph)

Last week, the popularly elected President of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, issued a Constitutional Declaration barring judicial authorities from overturning any decision made by him. Seeing in this measure an attempt to undermine the judiciary and place the president above the law, the country burst out in protest. Egyptians of all walks of life and every political persuasion, and none, spoke and demonstrated against the President’s dictatorial move. The fact that some of the judges Mr. Morsi is targeting are Mubarak-appointees did not deter the protestors. Pro-democracy activists ranged themselves alongside one-time Mubarak allies, because they realised that the threat was not to individuals but to judicial independence, the judiciary and democracy itself.

Having lived, always, under authoritarian rule, the people ofEgyptseem to know the value of democracy. They are readier to protect democracy than those who have not experienced the full horrors of despotism, first hand. Like us, inSri Lanka.

We know that the impeachment is an assault on the judiciary itself. We know that the impeachment will not be a fair trial and that the UPFA majority in the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) will find the Chief Justice guilty.

We know that the next chief justice will be nothing more than a Rajapaksa servitor. We know that under such a chief justice, the judiciary will become as much of a Rajapaksa tool as the parliament, the army or the bureaucracy.

We know that a judiciary under Rajapaksa control will make us more insecure. We know that Sri Lankasans rule of law will become the rampaging grounds of the likes of Mervyn Silva and Duminda Silva.

We know all this and yet our response is far from adequate. Perhaps we will understand the full value of even a flawed democracy and a semi-independent judiciary only after we have lost both.

PSC: Quintessentially Unjust

The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) is a deeply flawed instrument by its very nature. Its composition prevents it from functioning as an instrument of justice. Given its UPFA majority, the PSC cannot act objectively; nor can it decide on the basis of evidence. The Rajapaksas are intent on impeaching the CJ and the seven UPFA members in the PSC cannot dissent from that Rajapaksa dictat.

The manner in which the PSC has conducted itself so far demonstrates its biasness. The Supreme Court requested, in the interests of the good relations between the legislature and the judiciary, to delay impeachment proceedings until the SC has had time to determine on the constitutionality of the Standing Order 78A. The PSC refused to postpone the impeachment proceedings, even though a few weeks delay would not have mattered to the country or the people.

The PSC also refused the CJ’s request for more time as her lawyers point out in their interim response, “We regret that our client was not provided with more time. The letter dated 14/11/2012 was delivered to our client’s official residence at approximately 7pm, asking her to respond to the 14 charges by the 22/12/2012, which is approximately one week’s time” (quoted in dbsjeyaraj.com).

The impeachment is being pushed at breakneck speed, because the Rajapaksas are in an almighty hurry to get rid of this CJ.

The President, though out of the country visiting Kazakhstanand the ailing PM in an elite UShospital, is keeping a hands-on involvement in the impeachment drama: “Whilst in Washington, Rajapaksa has been busy on the telephone calling Colombo. One of the issues that has drawn considerable attention is the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice, Shirani Bandaranayake. Both Chief of Staff Senarath and Monitoring MP Gunawardena have been busy helping the President to speak with ministers and officials” (The Sunday Times – 25.11.2012).

The CJ has asked the PSC for a reasonable time period to prepare her full defence. That is a right which is available to any Lankan citizen, from the highest to the lowest, a right no Lankan court can deny. But the PSC decided to deny the CJ even this basic right. She will have just two weeks to prepare her defence. That again is a sign of the Rajapaksa urgency and the PSC’s total subjugation to Rajapaksa will.

According to media reports, none of the policemen at the parliamentary complex saluted the CJ when she arrived to appear before the PSC. Those policemen know that the PSC is just a sham and that the fate of the CJ had been decided months ago, elsewhere, by others.

With the impeachment will begin the new and dangerous practice of using the Parliamentary Select Committee as an instrument of Rajapaksa will and a fig leaf for Rajapaksa abuses. The PSC will be used to by the Rajapaksas to enhance their powers and to destroy their opponents, to strengthen familial rule and to ensure dynastic succession.

According to Basil Rajapaksa, “….a solution to the national question has to be found with consensus among all the parties through a parliamentary select committee” (Daily Mirror – 7.11.2012). Just as one PSC will be used to lynch the Chief Justice, another PSC will be used to replace the 13th Amendment with a 19th Amendment which will empower the Rajapaksas still further. The resultant obliteration of provincial devolution will alienate the minorities beyond measure and enable the second coming of the LTTE, in whatever guise.

In yet another letter to President Rajapaksa, V Anandasangaree, the Leader of the TULF, warns, “Without knowing the history of the ethnic problem they create a lot of new problems for you and for the country. I am in particular referring to the sudden demand by some to do away with the 13th Amendment. If you do not cry halt to this new development, it may turn out to be a Frankenstein monster, which you yourself will find difficult to control”.

Monsters do not fear monstrous outcomes. Vellupillai Pirapaharan didn’t. There is no reason to think the Rajapaksas will either.

Go to the Public

According to Jose Luis Borges, “The lies of a dictatorship are neither believed nor disbelieved; they pertain to an intermediate plane, and their purpose is to conceal or justify sordid or atrocious realities…” (L’Illusion Comique).

Similarly, the PSC’s real purpose is to provide a legal/constitutional veneer to what is essentially a witch trial. But that aim cannot be achieved, if the public finds out too much about the nature, tone and tenor of the PSC proceedings. That is why the regime has decided that the PSC should conduct its business under a cloak of secrecy.

Having vilified the CJ in public for months, the regime now wants the CJ to respond to those vilifications in private, and in secret. If the impeachment travesty is enacted in the full view of the public, the people will see it for what it is: an act of vengeance by a group of angry men against a woman who finally refused to yield to their illegal and unconstitutional demands. And the public sympathy, by and large, will be with the CJ and not her persecutors.

That is why the CJ must continue to take the public into her confidence and share her side of the story with the pubic. Making the interim response of her lawyers public was an excellent start, as was her conduct during the first day of the impeachment travesty. If she maintains this mode, she will be able to emerge for the impeachment drama with her reputation intact.

Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake may not be able to save her job. But former chief justice Shirani Bandaranaike has the potential of becoming the new political star in the none-too bright opposition firmament. Her manner of appearing before the PSC on the first day hints that she is neither unaware of this possibility nor wholly averse to it.

And the Rajapaksas, having resolved the Chief Justice problem as planned, might find themselves saddled with a far more intractable Shirani Bandaranayake dilemma.

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Latest comments

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    ;) :) ;)

    The problem with political jokes Impeach the Impeachers is they get elected.

    Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.

    Smart phones, smart cars, smart televisions… when are they going to
    start making smart Presidents from Chief Justices?

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      Thanks Thisaranee for another excellent piece!
      Good idea – Rajapassa needs to be impeached and packed off to the Hague for a war crimes trial!

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    Set up by power hungry megalomaniac-The Tyrant.
    If you want to kill any idea in the world,get a committee workingonit.
    ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one going to Graceland.

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    Members in the Bar association, Supreme Court along with trade unions and opposition leaders should collaborate with the international Bar Association, foreign governments, foreign missions and Human Rights Commissions and should work some type of an International Travel Ban on Pres.Mahinda Rajapakse until he withdraws this CJ impeachment.
    He can’t be having all the fun going from country to country with his anteraj creating phony, bogus and unnecessary meetings wasting Tax Payer money while people are suffering economically and fighting for their democracy and justice. After all we have foreign missions and BOI committee to promote business for Sri Lanka.
    MARA UNNECESSARY INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL BAN IS A MUST.

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    I also think that Sri Lankan Diaspora could help CJ by talking to those Govt. heads for a Pres. Mahinda Rajapakse international TRAVEL BAN until he withdraws this fradulant CJ impeachment. A collective effort will help all of us from falling Sri Lanka into a dictatorship.

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      also the Sri Lanka diaspora should write to the Sec general of the Commonwealth to boycot the CHOGM sessions in 2013 at the HumbugTota a.k.a the RakapakshaLand.

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    Why not bring in a motion to impeach MaRa’s “peaches”??

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    Great article. Congrats. If, what has happened in Sri Lanka has taken place in Egypt, then the whole country including the ruling Ministers would have gone to the streets. What is the meaning of PSC? Is it to select biased MPs to satisfy the Executive. All the 7 ruling MPs are highly biased and from the moment the proceedings started, they have been against the CJ unethically. Similarly, the Opposition 4 PSC members are highly biased and they are against this Impeachment. Knowing this very well, the Speaker (Elder brother of the President) made it 7 to 4 knowing very well the outcome and they have only to read the verdict written by the Presidential Secretariat well before the PSC commenced the proceedings. So, there is NO JUSTICE AT ALL in the composition of the PSC. Even the lawyers of a known murderer or let’s say of a mass murderer, are given a few weeks to give their submissions. Why not in this case. There is no urgency to the country to finish this case as there are thousands of criminal cases pending for years except the urgency for the President to have an yes man as the CJ.

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    The problem with Tisaranee G’s writings is that she cannot separate milk from cow dung.

    All along she appeared as if she was for a Tamil Eelam even when her friend Dayan J fought and withdrew from his 13A Plus invention.

    The word Tisaranee means the Noble Triple Gem in Buddhism. But this Tisaranee shows very bad anger against the R brothers. It is almost like a jealousy.

    If she writes objectively, telling nothing but the truth, in which case she will see that all actors involved in her drama are corrupt and dishonest, then her criticisms against MahindaR will receive respectable attention of her readers.

    For example, she cannot blame MahindaR without blaming CJ Shiranee and her husband for taking jobs as bribes.

    By not realizing this Fredica Janz got into a mess.

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      She is milk and you are cow dung simple as that.. Keep licking the boots of your heroes

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      Wije,
      I fully agree with everything you have written. In addition, I like to say that Thisaranee is a frustrated woman who has been devoting all her time to portray her never ending prejudiced views against Rajapakses and the government. Then again that is what she is paid for.

      She has been an INGO cohort and LTTE backer throughout government effort to eradicate terrorism. During that time, she wrote articles after article to highlight the invincibility of LTTE. Never once she condemned a single civilian maiming or killing by any one of its 383 humanbomb blasts; not even Rajiv Gandhi killing she denounced. When LTTE was clearly retreating but held its pretended capital Kilinotchchi for a little while, Thisaranee was thrilled and wrote it would be the ‘Stalingrad’ for Sri Lanka army. Just before LTTE was wiped out in 2009, Thisaranee wrote that LTTE would fight a guerilla war from Mulathivu jungle for years to come.

      Now that Sri Lanka flourishes economically and peace prevails across its full breath and length, she is jealous and cannot stand it.

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      The point which Wije is making is quite true. Here is a lady who reminds me of the saying ‘ The pot calling the kettle black’. She says the PSC is biased and will not perform what it is expected to do. But what is she ? Tissaranee on that count and in comparison is highly biased and against MR and anything to do with him be it the family or the Parliament where he enjoys a massive majority; she is someone with tunnel vision. She sees nothing but the wrong side of the Rs and is never prepared to even think of the other side of the coin.Well lady you cannot be a ” Journalist” in the true sense of the word if you carry this bias and plays one tune all the time.

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    Untill the modayas realise their modakama this will continue. At least now the educated people and professionals realise the folly of Mahadanmutta and his Modayas.

    Thats the reason why Govt doesnt want to educate people. Doesnt take much to satisfy a modaya. A buth haliya of kadawapu porondu and bellyfull of deshapremi bana would suffice.

    From next year we have to pay back IMF loan. Already CB has started selling its dollars. Lets see what happens.

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    Yes the lawyers are under no obligation to keep the proceedings secret as you said
    ‘Making the interim response of her lawyers public was an excellent start ‘

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    Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi may have taken a leaf from our President’s book when he issued a `Constitutional Declaration’ barring judicial authorities from overturning any decision made by him. And it is a pity that our people here are not as politically advanced as the Egyptian people who immediately took to streets in an outburst of fury against the dictatorial measure. Our country has already become the rampaging grounds of Mervin Silvas and Duminda Silvas.They are having their hay day, because here any rascal can get away after committing any heinous crime if he can pose as a devout Buddhist, a patriot and an MR faithful!

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    I think CJ should act strong, put down her feet, and immediately should tell PSC that she is not that Low to be herd and get a fair trial by an uneducated, unqualified, 9th grade drop-outs who don’t know a damn of English, leave alone Law and who are been bribed to cross over by the big boss Executive.
    She should tell enough is enough for the jokers humiliating the Judiciary and the Supreme court, and should tell that she should only be herd by qualified and reputed senior SC judges to answer the 14 counts.
    Going in front of a bunch of PSC clowns for an impeachment trial by a well reputed and a respected Chief Judg is unthinkable and never herd in the world history.
    Any comments ……..

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    President Mohammed Morshi of Egypt decree has nothing to do with our Imperachment against CJ ongoing corruaption charges Sri Lankan -Judge.
    Old forces of Mubark and allied foreing power jointly been to Street to Protset Mohammad Morshi move to be remove orthedox and conservative forces who oppoed move forwared in Egypt Democracic Movement and Judiciary.There are similarites in Sri Lanka and Egypt movement time being to undermine democratic & national interest behind CJ’s imperachment.
    Ours is Corruaption of CJ and Husband of both them having engaing misused public funds and positions, there is no covering gurantee form Repubilc Constitunial clauses to skip corruaption charges against them.They have to charge and bring before Parliment for probe.That is about clear judicial authorities.That is upheald Fiair play impertialty of Justice for every citzeds of Sri lanka.
    Charges aginst CJ is political and Judicial issue of great concern of public.Must address both its are sympotms and root cause of combating PUNISHMENT and PREVENTION CORRUPATION BRING BACK CLEAN JUDICIARY INTERGRITY IN SRI LANKA LEGAL SYSTEM.

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    “And the public sympathy, by and large, will be with the CJ and not her persecutors.”

    If one considers the ongoing witch hunt in light of work on power and subjectivity (Foucault, Gramsci, Althusser et al), the public’s sympathy will certainly not be with the CJ. Indeed, if the people of SL were asked to vote on whether they should, in the future, be disenfranchised, what percentage would vote `aye’? Probably not a majority, but quite a few, I would say, and mostly along party lines.

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    The idea of a travel ban written by Jayantha is a smart card.If the Sri Lankan polity is indiferent to what is happening around them the Sri Lankan diaspora who enjoy the freedoms in their adopted countries need to take up this issue of impending dictatorship.Demand your countries politicians to prevail upon the Sri Lankan Govt not to impeach the CJ for carrying out her duties,As Thisaranee hinted, with the ousting of the CJ we wish to see a bright political star gleaming across the skies.She has impecable credentials to talk to the people.The unruffled serene face of CJ is a thorn in the eyes of the GOVT.People’s choice for a dynamic opposition.

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      I also think SUPREME COURT SHOULD IMMEDIATELY (WITHOUT DELAY) APPOINT A BENCH OF SENIOR JUDGES AND START HEARING THE CJ IMPEACHMENT TRIAL WITHOUT WAITING FOR THE NEXT PSC HEARING.

      Since people have no faith in unqualified and biased PSC the only way to bring justice to CJ is by bringing her in front of a qualified, experienced and honest bench of SENIOR JUDGES.

      SINCE THE 14 CHARGES ARE ALREADY KNOWN CJ COULD ANSWER THEM IN FRONT OF THESE SENIOR JUDGES.The trial also should be open to PUBLIC and should be broadcast on RADIO/ TV so public could witness the trial.

      THIS IS A MUST AND IMMEDIATE AND THE FAIR TRIAL WILL GIVE JUSTICE TO ALL.

      Waiting to hear others comments….on this.

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        hora CJge golayangen pena ahannada kiyanne?

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    Jayantha, this seems to be the only solution as the President is waiting to use his hammer to nail the coffin of the Judiciary. Your idea is timely and a citizen or a group of citizens of Sri Lanka should file a case against the CJ on these 14 charges that are already published and the courts should appoint very senior judges and give a ruling prior to the PSC. The citizens of Sri Lanka (supreme power lies with them) will accept the ruling of the courts and not the majority recommendation of the kangaroo courts. Now, Duminda is completely forgotten as well as all other cases including the “raja kaduwa” from the Museum and the massacre at the prisons. This case will also be yet another forgotten one after the President uses his hammer and the innocent CJ will have to seek asylum somewhere as the “grease yaka” will haunt her if she lives in Sri Lanka as she will be definitely a threat to his brother. I hope the idea of a true patriot will be taken very seriously by the lawyers loyal to the CJ and do something before it is too late. I have an eerie feeling that the same fate of Gen. Fonseka could happen to this GOLDEN LADY of Sri Lanka if the general public will not take to the streets.

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    Thank you Ronny…
    Yes when I herd President has instructed all the Govt. parliament members not to talk about this CJ impeachment to public, and PSC not to reveal anything to press or public and no public viewing or broadcast of the proceeding….I noticed something fishy going under hand.
    MARA has already given the instructions to PSC to carry out and counting the days to chase CJ out which is very sad.

    That’s why I thought the best option we have is to start some kind of another trial by SC with the help of senior judges so there is another case, a valid, legal and peoples mandated one where MR has limited authority to block.

    Only if someone could inform on this oprion to CJ and to a senior Judge or to a Lawyer and get their opinion will be helpful.

    Because come 4th and 8th Dec, MARA is ready to kick CJ, and we have to save her for everybody’s benefit.

    Please see if you could convey this idea direct to CJ or a senior Judge or a Lawyer.

    Thanks.

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      Dear Jayantha ,

      Good to see right spirited, minded people commenting on this awesome blog. In order to become reality of your great suggestion I like to add a few suggestions.

      1)Maha Nayake Sanga need to act decisively. (Merely issuing press releases will not do the job )

      2)All the other religious leaders to come up with an action plan before it is too late.

      3)All powerful BAR association of SL needs to show their muscles , some sort of ultimatum is the need of the hour. i.e boycotting all the hearings , protests country wide , hunger strikes

      4)All the judges needs to unite and declare they will suspend the hearings until an amicable solution is reached.

      5)All the opposition needs to unite leaving their petty political differences behind and organize country wide protests and awareness campaigns

      6)All the trade unions need to get together and organize an island wide token strike.

      7)All the professional (FUTA, Doctors, Engineers ,Teachers, Nurses etc etc )need to join hands and demonstrate during their lunch breaks (similar to Geneva debacle protest in March )

      8) General public needs to demonstrate country wide

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        Dear Srilal.

        yes Srilal you ideas are great and I think there is some kind of understanding among all the above and a movement is forming among them.
        We cannot allow to ruin our country before our own eyes by an uneducated, uncultured thug.

        I hope and pray the masses will unite to liberate our country.

        People are realising….and realising this fast.

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    In Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy it was “I am the State”
    He presumed – and wanted others to take note – he alone will decide
    what is good for the people and the country. He suggested he was
    infallible and the good of Italy – from its many enemies, imagined and/or delusinal, within and outside – will be protected by him.

    Are we any different here today?

    Senguttuvan

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      Dear Senguttuvan ,

      “Are we any different here today?”

      yes , there is a difference , today sl CLAIMING to have democracy i.e democratically elected president , regular elections , functioning parliament , formidable opposition , continuous strikes etc etc….
      Every single misdemeanor is done according to the law, so no one can complain about it , right ?
      Finally to top up every thing we have five star democracy status countries like china ,Iran , Pakistan ,Uganda, Swaziland and Kazakhstan at our disposal ,so there won’t be any problems in foreseeable future ?

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    The constitution of Sri Lanka guarantees the sovereignty of the people, or it recognises the sovereignty of the people. The people’s representatives are neither the judiciary nor the executive. If the legislature is not truly representative and is a mere accessory, Sri Lankans must ask themselves what their options are…

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    Looks like Journalists, Lawyers and FUTA can run the country. may be we should invent a system so that they run the country because they all think they are above the law, the constitution, which is formed by the people elected by people.

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    another Bandaranayaike to politics in the country,we all suffered more gthan 30 years under the same name and even without food while they eat rice from india.other lady got leaving in uk with all the cheated money from poor people,it is time for us to end this dirty culture.look what happen under chndrika and sirima leadership ,you wnat another benereneyeke to poliitcs????????????????

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    THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE PEOPLE ARE TALKING NOW.
    THE PEOPLE IN SRI LANKA ARE LIKE THE LAME DUCKS. THEY HAVE NO BACK BONE TO COME FORWARD TO PROTEST. EVEN IF THEY DO, THE M.R. REGIME WILL SHOOT THEM ALL.

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    What happened to the love affair? She danced the merry devil when things were going her way with the hierarchy.Unfortunately, her husband abused her new-founded power and got tangled in serious financial crimes while she looked the other way. Now the tune has changed and her dance is different.

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    What???!!!!! Another BandaranaYakka. Oh please….. spare us further misery.

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    Wonder if she has heard 3 sisters song “Ha, Ha, Hora Danuna, Danuna…..”

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    MR is politically and militarily powerful.
    Any dissent/protest to the impeachment of the CJ will be nipped in the bud with brute force.
    See what the STF and Police did at Welikada, and what the military did to protesting students in Jaffna.
    Not a hum from anyone.
    The impeachment appears to be an impending reality.
    The nation stands on the brink of an unimaginable disaster.
    Yet, I think good sense may prevail, and that a situation of total ‘parliamentary/presidential dictatership’ will be avoided.

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