1 October, 2020

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Presidential Election, The Only Way To Break The Current Political Impasse 

By Rasika Jayakody

Rasika Jayakody

Sri Lanka’s political crisis is far from resolved.

Although the United National Front (UNF), the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) have passed two no-confidence motions against former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and have demonstrated their majority via an ‘electronic vote’, the purported government, backed by President Maithripala Sirisena, continues to illegally hold office.

All 122 lawmakers supporting the no-confidence motion have filed a Writ of Quo Warranto in the Court of Appeal, in a fresh attempt to oust Rajapaksa and the members of his government. This process is likely to spark an intense and possibly lengthy legal battle. Two other motions seeking cut off budgetary allocations to the Prime Minister’s Office, occupied by Rajapaksa, and to all other ministries will be taken up before the Parliament next week. The motions, if passed, will further tighten the screws on the purported government and intensify  the fierce power struggle that has gripped Sri Lankan politics since October 26.

While the political crisis has now plagued every aspect of the country’s state machinery and plunged society into unchartered waters, we must not forget that it all started with actions of one man – President Maithripala Sirisena.

Sirisena triggered the crisis by appointing a parliamentarian who did not command a parliamentary majority as the Prime Minister, using a spate of unconstitutional and illegal methods. In doing so, the President brazenly violated the provisions of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which he himself presented to Parliament in April 2015. What’s worse, the reasons for the President’s actions, as he explained later, are largely personal and stem from seemingly unbridgeable socio-cultural and lifestyle differences between Sirisena and ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

At the centre of this crisis, therefore, is President Sirisena, driven by the deep bitterness he harbours against Wickremesinghe. As a way of resolving the crisis, Sirisena has explored the possibility of appointing another senior figure within the UNP camp as Prime Minister, in a direct snub at Wickremesinghe. This plan has proved to be futile with the UNP top-tier continuing to pledge full support to Wickremesinghe turning down all invitations for negotiations on back-door appointments. Sirisena insists he will never appoint Wickremesinghe the Prime Minister again, even if the latter commands the support of the entire legislature – in direct contravention of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, and in an alarming sign of future course of action.

The Rajapaksa group’s exit strategy from the current impasse is  parliamentary election, which they hope will solidify the position of the former President. However, they face Constitutional barriers there, as they are barred from holding an election until  four and a half years into the term of Parliament is past, unless explicitly requested for by no less than a two-thirds in the House. The UPFA group’s first plan was to orchestrate continuous chaos in Parliament to force a resolution demanding an early dissolution and snap elections. However, it appears to be that the UPFA finally came to the realisation that their strategy of orchestrating chaos within the legislature is self-defeating and comes with a great political cost. Fence sitters from the urban middle class are already railing against the behaviour of UPFA MPs in Parliament and demanding more civilized conduct  from politicians.  It is against this backdrop that S. B. Dissanayake, a stalwart of the UPFA, publicly urged Sirisena to withdraw his call for the dissolution of Parliament and allow the current Parliament to continue its full term.

Despite these developments, there is an argument to be made for taking the vote to the people, by means of an election. An early dissolution of Parliament and snap General Elections go against the Constitution and Provincial Council elections will only be a futile exercise with little  impact on the deadlock in national politics. 

The only practical solution would be to hold a Presidential election,  that is permitted by the Constitution any time after January 2019. When President Sirisena appointed Rajapaksa as his Prime Minister, one of his main conditions was that the Rajapaksa group must extend their unequivocal support to Sirisena to help him secure the Presidential candidacy of the UPFA/SLPP alliance. The ink is barely dry on this agreement, and it is time Sirisena steps up as the Presidential candidate of the UPFA/SLPP alliance and seeks a fresh mandate from the people for his course of action. The Rajapaksa group seems confident of their ability to perform electoral miracles and have already begun a widespread social media campaign, under the theme #LetMeVote, to mobilize masses for elections.

A Sirisena win at the next Presidential election will decisively end the political career of Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP will be forced to appoint a new leader – a favourable outcome from Sirisena’s standpoint. The defeated UNP will have little political stamina to challenge Sirisena’s actions and the President will be able to continue with the current Parliament, with his chosen Prime Minister. That will also give him the option of continuing with the current Parliament until mid-2020and to call for a General Election from a much stronger position then, minus any constitutional impediment.

In the event that Sirisena is defeated, he current deadlock will be broken, as the UNP candidate will be able to work constructively with the legislature, in which the UNP-friendly alliance already commands a majority. 

Either way, a Presidential election in January is the easiest way to end the current political deadlock, without breaching provisions of the Constitution and without affecting the state machinery for any longer at a great cost to the economy. It is also a common strategy that all political parties, including the ones supporting the no-confidence motion against Mahinda Rajapaksa, can agree upon.  In the end, it is the people’s will that must be upheld and the public must be encouraged to exercise their franchise to end the most intense political power struggle that Sri Lanka has seen in its post-independence history.

*Rasika Jayakody is the former Editor of Daily News and the former Editor-in-Chief of Asian Mirror. He may be contacted at rasikajayakody2@gmail.com 

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Latest comments

  • 14
    0

    Send this idiot and self fish Maithri home ..
    He is not behaving in the interest of Sri Lanka but bloody his personal interest .
    In fact his civic rights should be taken away .

    • 1
      0

      IF A PERSON IS SICK, we need to get him to a medical check up. Likewise, we are all becoming clear, no body else, President Pallewatte Gamaralalage Maithripala Yapa Sirisena (pronounced [pallewat̪t̪ə ɡaməraːləlaːɡeː majt̪ɾiːpaːlə jaːpaː siɾiseːnə]; Sinhalese: පල්ලේවත්ත ගමරාලලාගේ මෛත්‍රීපාල යාපා සිරිසේන; Tamil: பல்லேவத்த கமரலகே மைத்திரிபால யாப்பா சிறிசேன is the root course of lanken problems.

      Had he been a serious politicians, would he ever abuse state funds that GOOD governance govt saved at the begining

      Not even a child would react the way president Gamarala has been upto now.

      He is the most shameless person in entire SRILANKA to this day.

      All gods should help him get back to his CONSCIENCE, healthy conscience for the sake of 22 millions of SRILANKENs.

  • 14
    0

    “In the end, it is the people’s will that must be upheld and the public must be encouraged to exercise their franchise to end the most intense political power struggle”
    .
    So, anytime a president does not like the face of his PM and not respect the constitution, we the people need to exercise our franchise at the billions of our own expense no matter what sort of economic crisis we are currently facing???

    • 0
      0

      Of course.
      It happens all the time in real democracies.
      Cost to the nation will be greater than that of an election, if same is not held, due to difficulties in governance as public servants will not respect orders from an unstable/disrespected/bankrupt government.
      Financial discipline will be lost.

  • 13
    0

    “Presidential Election, The Only Way To Break The Current Political Impasse” – why go for surgery when a pill can cure? Politicians must respect the constitution.

  • 11
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    Agree with you totally, Rasika. A Presidential election first, is a must.

    • 2
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      A healthy and practical analysis from Rasika. Refreshing to read.

    • 1
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      I thought only Rasika was joking seems he has partners!
      BTW, why a Presidential election when the problem is in the Parliament?
      In Sinhala there is a saying “paya barawayata pitikara beheth bandinawa”!

  • 3
    0

    It is very unfair for the whole country to be dragged through a mine field just to satisfy an egoist ignoramus, with bloated greed.

  • 3
    0

    100 percent theoretically correct but zero chance of it happening, as long as a madly power hungry and utter selfish dickhead occupying the Presidency.

  • 2
    0

    A Presidential Election cannot be conducted in the absence of a legal government in place to supervise that exercise in an orderly manner!

  • 5
    1

    No Presidential election, but Sirisena should be impeached for going against the constitution, and putting the country and the people in the harms way. His personal differences with Ranil is not the concerned of the country, he should know and learn to sort out these issues in a decent and respectable manner instead of damaging and tarnishing country’s image and reputation, plus people elected him not to play with their lives. It’s abundantly clear, all his actions are uncivilised and illegal, and against the foundation of the country, and against top and basic law of the country – the constitution – which when he took oath, solemnly pledged to uphold. By all counts he violated it, and therefore not fit to sit in that position. He lost all the trust and respect of the country and the world. Hence, he should go for good.

  • 2
    5

    “Sirisena triggered the crisis by appointing a parliamentarian who did not command a parliamentary majority as the Prime Minister, using a spate of unconstitutional and illegal methods.”
    ————–
    In 2015, same Sirisena did a similar kind of thing by appointing Ranil as PM. At that time all these dumbos who condemn Sirisena now hailed him as a hero. In 2018, when same Sirisena appointed Mahinda Rajapakse as PM to save this country from ‘Thuppahiyas’ who wanted to break this country into pieces through a Federal Constitution, he has become a villain to same guys who hailed him as a hero in 2015.

  • 4
    0

    Sri Lanka Presidential Election together with A REFERENDUM to change the executive presidentship.

    Going only for a Presidential election is risky as it creates god above the rule of law and then asking him to come down to earth which no one like to adhere.

  • 8
    0

    “What’s worse, the reasons for the President’s actions, as he explained later, are largely personal and stem from seemingly unbridgeable socio-cultural and lifestyle differences between Sirisena and ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.”

    This is where all you guys go wrong ……….. if you don’t believe any of the other crap Sirisena dishes out …….. then why believe this? It defies logic!

    Sirisena’s tiff with Ranil started when Ranil informed Sirisena well ahead of time that he intends to run for president ……. it has nothing to do with “socio-cultural and lifestyle differences” ……. If that were the case, rural-background-Sirisena should have differences with many more than just Ranil.

    Simply put ……. what transpired was Sirisena thought he could use Ranil’s perennial unpopularity by picking a fight with Ranil …….. and latching on to Mahinda’s popularity …… for a second tilt at the presidency ……. and the voters would flock. Unfortunately for Sirisena most of the people were not as dumb as him ……… and saw through his stunt.

    What Sirisena pulled is a classic Lankan stunt. That’s how the simpleton Lankan-mind works. You guys, dealing with this crap on a daily basis, should see through it more than I.

    I will believe every word Sirisena utters if he first comes out and says publicly that he would not seek a second term – like he promised in 2015. That would indicate genuineness …… which is a rare trait in Lankan pols.

    If not one gotta be brain dead to believe a word of Sirisena.

    We the citizens cant be considerate or nice when dealing with these “try-anything” crooks ……… What is the bloody point? …….. His excellency the president, the Prime Minister or whatever the crap, haven’t they done enough damage already?

  • 1
    7

    Even if Sirisena wins at a Presidential election, it will not help to have a stable Government. Demala politicians, who always wait to fish in troubled waters will not allow to have a stable Government unless their demand for a Federal Constitution is fulfilled. Therefore, best option is to go for an election and convince voters to give a land side victory to either UNP or SLFP/SLPP so that Demala and Muslim politicians cannot play the role as King Makers.

  • 3
    0

    Agreed with you Mr Jayakody, we need a presidential election as early as possible.

    • 0
      0

      As if Ranil can win a presidential election!!! HA..HA..HA…….
      Already a common candidate is promoted and The HOOO EN PEEE should learn a from “once bitten twice shy”.

  • 4
    0

    Let’s all get togethr and impeach this Sirisena brute

  • 2
    0

    Sharmini why don’t you write a piece as you write so well.

  • 1
    0

    Rasika Jayakody is generous in calling our recent ‘happenings’ as “The Current Political Impasse”
    .
    It is getting clearer by the hour that self-preservation is the driving force. Signs are ominous.
    Take for example the Police being brought under Ministry of Defence, AG withdraws certain appeals, travel restrictions on select few withdrawn, and so on.
    By the way, the CJ SL is due to retire in April.
    We may see SriLankan Airlines placing order for cashew-nuts and planes, Air Force ordering fighters, Navy freighters and so on.
    .
    A Presidential election, if and when it comes, will NOT address the recent ‘happenings’.
    SLPP will unroll the language/religion-divide.
    SLPP will shout “TNA is behind the defeat of the MR-team efforts in Parliament”.
    .
    We are well past the ‘Impasse’ stage. This must be put right NOW or never.

  • 3
    0

    Rasika Jayakody: You said: ” At the centre of this crisis is therefore President Sirisena driven by the deep bitterness he harbours against Wickramasinghe”. Your solution is therefore to hold a Presidential election and end the crisis. This “CRISIS” is centered on “BITTERNESS” against a sitting PM. Do you think, such “Subjective” tendencies must allowed to be a “Criteria” in administering the State Functions? Look! If Sirisena cannot live with his own wife, he cannot just “ABANDON” her on his own fancy and GO ALONG with another WOMAN. There is a WAY to “ABANDON” her. It is a “DIVORCE” properly fought in a Court of Law. If in a matter very personal to him is defined that way, what would you think of a President who is entrusted with the State Function by the People’s Mandate? So, FIRST let us ERASE off this “BLACK MARK” from our STATUES and “CUSTOMS” of Governance. The President Sirisena has VIOLATED all Laws and the Constitutional Provisions before “DIVORCING” the sitting PM and PUBLICLY started an ILLEGAL AFFAIR with a “PARAMOUR” for which he (MY3) personally and PUBLICLY must be made LIABLE and ANSWERABLE and also be made to pay “COMPENSATION” to the COUNTRY and the PEOPLE. Then, we can go for another election. If not, this “RUNAWAY” with “PARAMOURS” will be repeated. STOP that ever happening. Your input is awaited. Thank you..

  • 1
    0

    The issue is about the premiership and majority in the parliament; here you are suggesting a presidential election. It is not going to be second to king Kakilla’s verdict.

  • 0
    0

    The best example would be JR Jayawardena as the leader of opposition resigned from his Parliamentary seat Colombo West in protest of Mrs Bandaranaike extending the life of the Parliament in in 1975 under the cover of new Constitution passed in 1975.. He won the by by election with a 25,000 majority.

    Yes therefore the only constitutional act that Sirisena could do is to go to polls himself in a constitutional manner with his new found allies and test his strength and obtain a fresh mandate from the people and allow the Parliament to conduct its own business restraining interference by the executive on the legislature respecting the aged old principal of separation of powers.

  • 1
    0

    Sirisena please test your popularity with the voters of this country, that will solve a lot of problems. After the 9th Jan you can call for it. Thank you

  • 0
    0

    ”Presidential Election, The Only Way …”
    I am in total agreement. Although I accept the constitution & the legal right, a few more years under this pickle that forms the current govt., SL will be another Zimbabwe with soaring inflation due to the depreciation of the rupee, collapse of business leading to mass unemployment & increase in crime as people desperately try to find means of survival. The knock on effect of a declining-by-the-day economy can be understood even by a non economist. The parliament is too busy fighting among them selves to think of the welfare of the country. Therefore, we need a fresh set of leaders to restore sanity in parliament & hopefully see the end of this uneducated, corrupt bunch who have disgraced the country in the eyes of world with their unruly behaviour, which was no better than a brawl among thugs.
    Yesterday, a new political party was formed in UK, consisting of political novices because most British people are now fed up with the Brexit stalemate. Although 52% of people in Britain voted to leave the EU, even after 2 years, is still undecided if it should be a ‘soft’ Brexit with some concessions or a ‘hard’ Brexit with nothing to do the the EU. Many who voted for Brexit now realise they have been misled by the Brexit campaign & the politicians who supported to remain in UK did not make the case against leaving the EU strong enough to convince the average Joe on the street of the complications & the repercussions of leaving the EU. As a result, the current Conservative Govt. has lost faith & the Labour Party in the opposition are calling for fresh elections but their somewhat ‘on the fence’ stand on a soft Brexit or a possible second referendum has not convinced the British people either.

  • 0
    0

    Mentally retarded person as Head of State will ruin the Country.

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