29 November, 2022

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Not My President

By Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka

Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka

Sri Lanka’s Constitution, being democratic and republican, decrees that the President is popularly elected.

We, the citizens, are about to face the prospect of an unelected person, a person rejected by his own city and present in Parliament only through a single national list seat, soon to be assuming the role of the executive President, representing the totality of our sovereign will.

As a citizen who believed to-date that the Constitution protected our rights, it is incomprehensible to me how such an individual whoever he/she may be, could be elevated to the status of the personage in whom we have vested our sovereignty, over whom there is no other authority, but has final authority over the armed forces, is offered immunity from prosecution by the virtue of that office, and is considered to represent and exercise without hindrance, our popular will.

We, the citizens, have been assured through our Constitution that the “sovereignty is in the People and is inalienable. Sovereignty includes the powers of government, fundamental rights and the franchise.” I expect that inalienability to be exercised in practice, and not be confined to the assurance in the written Constitution.

In the case of our representation in the powers of government, the Constitution guarantees that “the executive power of the People, including the defence of Sri Lanka, shall be exercised by the President of the Republic elected by the People”. This is the guarantee, the sentence that says “elected by the People”, that enables us to accept our Constitution, accept the authority of the President, and get on with our lives, safe in the knowledge that a majority of the citizens thought it fit that the person they elected could be trusted to perform the duties and enjoy the powers and privileges of the high office of the President.

Not My PM

There is no question that the present moment is an unusual, unprecedented one, which dare I say, was not foreseen by the Constitution. It certainly provided for filling the vacuum left by a departing President during his term, but didn’t foresee the eccentricities of such a President who would appoint as PM, a person utterly rejected by the people.

When President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe to the post of PM, committing the original sin, he had a choice. He had earlier offered the post of PM to the Leader of the Opposition who put forward a set of conditions under which he would accept his offer. They were far less radical than the fate he was to suffer at the hands of the people later, having to make a run for it before the crowds stormed the Presidential Palace, appropriately on the anniversary of Bastille Day. Therefore, one couldn’t argue that the appointment of an unelected MP to the post of PM was made out of necessity, but rather due to a choice that was in substantive terms, undemocratic if not unconstitutional reminiscent of his other choices detrimental to the wellbeing of the people of this country.

Constitutionally, the President is expected to appoint the person who has a majority of support in the legislature. Intuitively, this was not the case regarding a person who had only one seat in Parliament, his own, and that too unelected. Unlike during the 52-day administration of President Maithripala Sirisena who appointed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, elected in his own constituency and with several dozen seats in parliament, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s support in Parliament was never tested at the time of his appointment as PM.

There was no hashtag campaign challenging that appointment as during the 52-day administration. It was only the Aragalaya which accurately saw one more reason for the prompt overthrow of President Rajapaksa.

The 225

How are we to regard this state of affairs? How can we, the citizens, be passive victims of one man’s eccentricities? That man has now been deposed, precisely because of decisions such as these with no regard for the interest of the people. The people have clearly expressed their will and exercised their sovereign right to rid the island of that ruler.

Is the Constitution so impotent at this moment as to allow a person whom nobody chose to represent them in parliament, i.e., whom nobody wanted in Parliament, to now occupy the office of the President as representing and exercising our sovereign will?

This will be the case if the Parliament, a few days hence, on the 20th of this month, votes for the acting President, who has cynically thrown his hat into the ring for the Presidential stakes. The Parliament is massively unpopular with the people standing in line at fuel queues in the cities and in the withering farmlands in the rural heartland.

The ruling party, completely dismissive of this visible discontent, has announced that it will support the candidacy of Ranil Wickremesinghe. The SLPP’s contempt for the people who elected them and for the people suffering due to its policies, and the lack of courage to course correct, couldn’t be clearer than in this official decision. It’s now writ large in neon lights. The one dim and distant hope for them and their voters is a group of dissidents who have fielded a far more empathetic candidate of their own.

The Third Pillar

Where are we at, and who will save us? We are at a point when the decisions taken by those who wield power over us, will decide whether these questions will be resolved peacefully or violently.

It is reported that a few cases against this state of affairs have been or are being filed with the Supreme Court. Given the shenanigans in Parliament, the usual toing and froing and buying of votes and party-political considerations, it is difficult to imagine the MPs will emerge our saviours, and will have what it takes to gather themselves together to field a common candidate to defeat what is essentially the treacherous maneuver by the SLPP leadership. One still hopes against hope.

However, the Judiciary, vested with the grave responsibility of being one of the pillars of our sovereignty, may be able to clarify this unfortunate situation, created by an original decision which wasn’t in line with the spirit of the law, which then resulted in a series of events that flies in its face.

Surely, it shouldn’t be left entirely to the Aragalaya which will step in if this anomalous situation is not corrected by the 20th of July? Is the inevitable second uprising of the people the only solution?

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Latest comments

  • 12
    1

    Ha, Don’t we all know very well that this is a land like no other!
    Just imagine if Ranil is appointed President and Sirisena as the Prime Minister!
    We will then have another dysfunctional government!

    • 6
      7

      Ranil is going to win on sympathy vote.
      Burning of his house is a harbinger of events to come if Sajith is elected president.
      Most probably his classmate in school Dinesh Gunawardena will be appointed prime minister.
      Dinesh being an ultra racist, will be acceptable to Buddhist priests and Sinhala nationalists.

  • 14
    0

    Sandra/ your president would have been your husband/ who has made him a political analyst.
    .
    Unfortunately. Today’s context would nt pave the way ur husband to become the foreign minister for Sajith a cabinet..
    .
    Not a good news but U ll have to wait another few years to abuse state funds again/ .
    🐕🐕🐕🐕🐕🐕🐕🐕😎😎😎😎😎😎

    • 4
      0

      Sandya/ apologies for my typos

  • 12
    4

    Even if the total population die in hunger we have to protect the same parliament buliding and the same members of parliament for next two years because this is in our constitution and this is our democracy.

  • 5
    5

    When opposition leader was asked to be president he furnished some condition and Gota did Not accept it.

    When Ranil was asked to take over PM ship he accepted the deal no condition that why he trapped now. (you same me from Bond scam I will save your family) his past history does not stand on If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
    Ranil not from the people, social conservatism, and economic libertarianism Always curfew to protect him self. Until he creeps from another deal “History is the story of events, with Ranil has all blame in record.

    • 4
      1

      I doubt if any Bond Scam inquiry will find RW guilty of misappropriation.
      Law, Ethics and Morality are different categories in themselves and can even be mutually exclusive.

      • 4
        0

        Srilanken Judiciary would not touch it, because Rajapakshes are the architect of SO CALLED BOND SCAM.
        .
        Sorysena aka former president is now deaf on the bond scam, even if he himself did not let any recommendations made by presidential commission be exposed to the nation. If done so, Rajapakshes would not have any chance to reutrn to power.
        .
        Not just because of BOND SCAM issue, but also the greater mistake made in EASTER SUNDAY disaster, SORYSENA should be hung.
        :
        Gotabaya ran away from the country, by appointing an acting president – however SORYSENA ‘s then trip to SINGAPORE on medical grounds or massage spa, there not a single word added regarding ” acting defence minister”: That alone woudl be sufficient son of bitch to be convicted in that huge mistake.

  • 5
    1

    President Gotabaya Rajapakse “FLED” the country and that is a FACT because his trip to the Maldives was neither OFFICIAL nor a “Pre Arranged Vacation”. Why do we have to “ACCEPT” a letter from him ” and give “CREDENTIALS” to it as a “RESIGNATION”? If we took this “LEGAL” stand all these problems would have been avoided. Then the Speaker becomes the “President Pro Tem”.

    Now over to “Aragalaya”: Do you accept Gotabaya Rajapakse to have “RESIGNED” OR “DEPOSED”? I ask this question because the main “THEME” and the “IDEOLOGY” of the “Aragalaya” was “GO GOTA GO”. According to that “DEMAND” he (Gota) “FLED” the country not on any “OFFICIAL BUSINESS”. So, “Aragalaya” you too are responsible for creating this “Mess”. You (Aragalaya) have become the VICTIM of your own “Creation”, in that, now the “Renewed” demand is” “GO RANIL GO”. Live with it. No option for you and the country.

    • 3
      1

      My dear Simon,
      :
      What do they KADAMANDIYA people say about current developments in the country. Do they still worship MAHARAJANO or cant they yet see ” Satakaya wearing bastards” anymore ?

  • 2
    0

    My comment continued: When “Aragalaya” stormed the “Presidential Palace” Gotabaya was NOT TO BE SEEN. Next, they went to the “Presidential Secretariat”. He was not there. The next location was “Temple Trees”. He was not there. Next, the pictures emerged to show “Baggage” being loaded into a ship. Along with that came the NEWS that he “Escaped” through a secret “Tunnel” from the Presidential Residence to the Navy. Interestingly, for a FEW DAYS, no one knew where he was and there was no “OFFICIAL COMMUNICATION” from the “Government/State” (Presidential Media, Security (Police/Armed Forces) either disclosing the whereabouts of the President. Suddenly, the Speaker announced: “President contacted me and said he would resign”. How was he contacted? Do we have to rely on such an announcement without any “Written” communication? So all that point to the conclusion that President Gotabaya Rajapakse has “FLED” the country. That “Resignation” is, therefore, NO RESIGNATION. He has “DESERTED/ABANDONED” the OFFICE of Presidency of Sri Lakanka. It must be RECORDED in the history books that way.

  • 10
    1

    Dear Madam,
    We, Tamils, have been suffering with “not out president” and “not out PM” since 1948.
    We do not have sovereignty.
    We do not have freedom
    We do not have the right to self-determination
    We have been suffering by the Madana Muththas elected by others

  • 6
    0

    As regards Ranil W. There is a court case filed by Mr. Nagananda Kodithuwakku challenging the “Naming” of Ranil W to the Parliament through the “National List”. As stated in the complaint, the then Commissioner of Elections – Mahinda Deshappriya wrote to UNP asking the Party Secretary to nominate a person for the Single Seat allocated to the party on the electoral votes, “WITHIN 07 DAYS”, supposedly as provided in the elections law. The Secretary to UNP, “FAILED” to comply with that request and the requirement of the law. However, UNP took MANY MONTHS and sent the name of Ranil W and entered the Parliament. The complainant, says that “Nomination” is illegal and requests the SC to make an order nullifying the “Nomination”. The decision is pending.

    Until the “Decision” of the SC, it is “UNETHICAL” and “IMMORAL” for Ranil W even to accept the Premiership and now to be the “Acting President”. What a country we live in and, leave the Governing Functions, the so-called “Peoples’ Sovereignty” ( PODUJANA PARAMADHIPATHTHIYA) in the hands of such “Immoral Crooks”?

    • 1
      1

      SIMON,
      .
      Sakkili politics would not end and do any good to anyone in SL. Why did they fall that lower level ? Paving the way to give a birth to SLPP (architected by Kaputas) was the real big mistake. All high criminals contributed it – incl. very same people. Remember ?

      Your children are lucky not to be in SL.

      Nothing will work out for the benefit of the masses, until a real change is the case. .
      -COVID 19 did not do the job well. Dark clouds are filled above our RAJAPKSHE punished island….. We warned again and again… once ballige puthas are back, cancerous state of the situation would turn out to be worse.

      Today they are all speechless. Sepal make dollars… Suda make dollars…. and all other make their dollars.
      :
      I am very pessimitic about SL s near term.

      They called RW today as Ranil Rajapakshe
      They called SP today as Sajith Alahaperuma
      They called DA today as Dalas Rajapakshe/Premadasa

      They called AKD today as Anura Kumara Disanayaka- best choice would be AKD to win the race – but would it be the reality in current composition of the parliament ?

      But our people did not give him mandate also in 2019.

  • 1
    4

    Ranil won’t will win. Out of the 145 Potthuwa seats, 3/4 of them will be afraid about land-bridge and secessionist deals by him. Much of course depends on how much of stolen wealth they will have to hide, but then the country’s fiery wrath will be upon them is the land is divided and/or merged with India.

  • 5
    0

    “Sri Lanka’s Constitution, being democratic and republican, decrees that the President is popularly elected.”
    By that criterion, we will not have a President until the next public vote to elect one.

  • 1
    0

    There are other clauses dealing with succession to presidency in the event of death, impeachment, resignation etc.

  • 1
    0

    The constituion of the country was changed many times to meet the needs of selected Political d]family to be in power. . In a democrtic country people elect their MP. If they reject him he is not to be i Parliamnet. Whne his party too is rejected it means no member from that prty is entitled to become an MP. This is demoicrcy. Nominating MP;s violated democracy. This system should be done awt with. Nomiated MP system helps to maniulte and bring in family members as in case if Basil Rajooakse. Rani; party lost the lecgtions., He lost the lection. He was tejected by the people. Wht consense he has to enter parliamnet throiugh back door then become PM and manioulate to become Actg Presidnet. If he is an honest man who speks about people and the caountry he shiuld have resifned along with the Presidnet so that spaeaker becomes Presidnet as interin Oresidnet until a Presiudnet elected ASAP. The SLPPp has no priciple other than corrution,. It was formed to swindle the country by intiiating non vialble projects. This is the time the MPs decide unnaimously to elect the man who second highest number of votes n the last Presidnetil elctions 2019. This should be incluyded as cluse in the constituion to respect democracy

  • 3
    0

    We.never had a true president of all people.
    None truly respected the position when in power to bring a meaningful plan to bring the country to next level, all pocketed their kith and kins than truly build the country towards near independent rather pushed towards dependent economy.. However every president had the opportunity..

    TAMIL people never saw a true leadership in any of the president to this day..

    We will be discussing the same racially divisive policies in 10,, 20 or 50yesrs..

    Unless
    a true independent leader who is not affiliated with any party,
    who is not giving priorities to religion rather rule of law and
    be realistic,
    understand the country ad business model ( the country is bankrupted because expenditure is far exceeded in which no businesses can sustain to keep it open)
    with emphasis on talents and understand the need to integrate science and technology
    We have no room to get out from this bankruptcy.

    We can talk and dream while ordinary peasant will die from starvation.

  • 2
    0

    Aragalaya is a success movement without success UNLESS THEY FIND A PERSON WHO IS ACCEPTABLE, UNDERSTAND AND BALANCE

    BOTH LOCAL POLITICS AND INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL CLIMATE

    ACCEPTABLE TO BOTH SINHALA SPEAKING AND TAMIL SPEAKING PEOPLE

    ACCEPTABLE TO BOTH PEASANT AND BUSINESSES

    UNDERSTAND THE.ECONOMY , AVAILABLE RESOURCES AND SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

    WHO DOESN’T MIX POLITICS WITH RELIGION .

    UNLESS THEY BRING FORWARD SUCH A PERSON WHO IS NOT IN THE CURRENT DECK OF POLITICIANS, ARAGALAYA NEEDED TO PLAN FOR ANOTHER UPRISING IN THE COMING MONTHS..

    • 1
      0

      senthil,
      Even God can’t find him or her in this country?

  • 0
    2

    Beautifully written. The choice of words. A thorough knowledge of the subject matter. Thank you, Sanja for this article. For one who has left Sri lanka, so long ago, lots of blanks have been filled in.

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