4 August, 2020

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Ready To Run Country Without A Parliament, Gota Signals In Interview

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appeared to be setting the stage for prolonged executive rule in a pre-recorded interview aired on Monday night, when he claimed that under no circumstances will he reconvene the old Parliament, irrespective of when the Parliamentary election is held.

“In my proclamation I set a date for Parliament to convene. If there is no Parliament to convene by June 2 I cannot convene it,” he said in an interview with former Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunge.

The claim raises questions about whether the President hopes to run the country without a parliament indefinitely, especially if the election is delayed further as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The presidential assertion comes as opposition parties slammed the Elections Commission for making an unilateral decision on the election date of June 20 without consulting political parties who would have to make serious decisions about how to campaign for the poll.

Sri Lanka has seen a serious spike in corona virus cases in the past 48 hours which has prompted the Government to extend the curfew imposed on high risk districts for a further week. Medical experts warn that the country must complete at least four or five incubation cycles before normal life resumes in order ensuring early easing of restrictions does not create a new wave of infections. So far Sri Lanka has completed only two cycles since the curfew was imposed.

Reacting to the President’s remarks Lawyer Gehan Gunethilake tweeted that the June 2 deadline was “non-negotiable”.

“If Parliament is dissolved, you cannot have an election after June 2. Article 70 is pretty clear. If Parliament does not stand dissolved, you can have an election on 20th June or another date. You can’t eat the cake and have it,” Gunetillake remarked.

Constitutional lawyer Dr Asanga Welikala also reacted to the President’s interview.

“Simply put: “The President’s wishes trump the Constitution’s stipulations.” That’s the new Sri Lankan constitutionalism in one sentence of seven words,” Dr Welikala said.

Other Sri Lankans on Twitter were also critical of the remarks:

“So Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Government wants us to believe that an unnecessary election is in fact necessary; intends to use a misconstrued notion of ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ to breach clear constitutional provisions to hold such an unnecessary election, risking a major covid19 outbreak,” one user tweeted.

Most lawyers are urging President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to exercise his powers under Article 70 (7) of the Constitution.

According to Article 70 (7) of the Constitution:

“If at any time after the dissolution of Parliament, the President is satisfied that an emergency has arisen of such a nature that an earlier meeting of Parliament is necessary, he may by Proclamation summon the Parliament which has been dissolved to meet on a date not less than three days from the date of such Proclamation and such Parliament shall stand dissolved upon the termination of the emergency or the conclusion of the General Election, whichever is earlier.”

The lawyers argue that 70 (7) makes full provision for a pandemic situation such as the country is facing, because it allows Parliament to function as long as the Emergency is in place meaning that even if elections cannot be held by September because of the crisis, the country will still have a functioning legislature.

Senior lawyers are also arguing that since the Constitution is insistent on a new Parliament meeting within three months of dissolution, the Presidential Proclamation dissolving Parliament is rendered null and void. The strict condition under which the President is given power to dissolve parliament before it completes its term is that a new House must meet within three months – a deadline that expires on June 2, according to President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran.

Interestingly, June 20 happens to be President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s birthday. When the Elections Commission met on Monday April 20 Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya pushed hard for the 23 May election and disagreed with other officials that the election should be pushed back to July. According to Deshapriya the only other favourable date for an election was 20 June.

However President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was categorical that he would under no circumstances reconvene the old Parliament and would wait it out until a new set of parliamentarians were elected by the people – implying that it mattered little to him if that was delayed longer than the three month constitutional mandate.

During his interview with Weeratunge who nodded gratuitously as the President made the statement, Rajapaksa chuckled that the “Law does not expect to the do the impossible” without clarifying what he meant.

Weeratunge is a convicted criminal, after he was found guilty of misappropriating Rs. 600 million in state funds to distribute sil-redhi to supporters of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Full transcript of President’s comments on delayed elections below:

Constitutionally, three months after Parliament is dissolved, the new Parliament must convene. Accordingly the final date for Parliament to meet is June 2. The responsibility for setting an election date is the responsibility of the Independent Elections Commission which changed the original date in my proclamation. Under the prevailing conditions, the Commission has the opportunity to determine a suitable manner in which the election can be held. If they need to they can hold the election on several dates. I am not ready to influence the independent Elections Commission to hold the election or delay it. So far, I have done everything constitutionally. I have notified the date on which the new Parliament should meet. If for some reason an election is not held and no Parliament has been elected to convene by June 2, I cannot convene Parliament. Then I will have to convene parliament at a later date. Law does not expect to do the impossible. But under no circumstances am I ready to reconvene the old Parliament. So I can only convene a new Parliament if an election is held and new MPs are chosen. (by Chamika Madiwake)

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Latest comments

  • 6
    11

    To the Editor,
    Questions around the legality of the dissolution of the previous parliament are the result of the powerlessness of all institutions of the government to hold parliamentary elections in the middle of a pandemic. To conclude that Gota anticipated the development of the virus in the manner it has, well before the dissolution of the parliament is to credit him with a level of intelligence only few people would be endowed with.

    The manner the majority of the commentators link the present constitutional crisis to other non-related considerations is evidence of the unwillingness of such a majority of CT readers to accept Gota won the elections.
    Gota is the duly elected President of Sri Lanka. There can be no argument about it although all Sri Lankans are entitled to their opinions on the integrity OR the lack of integrity in the manner the election campaign was conducted.

    As I have previously noted elsewhere, there needs to be a way forward to resolve the issue of holding elections. We cannot find Gota to be responsible for the current impasse. He dissolved the parliament as provided for in the Constitution. Teresa May dissolved the parliament at the time of her choosing (which turned out to be wrong!) to seek a clear majority for her version of Brexit. Gota’s decision is no different.

    It is a reasonable proposition to consider that the 7 million people who voted Gota, would be totally opposed to recalling the previous parliament. Such opposition would render recalling the previous parliament as an activity that does not reflect the will of the people. This argument is valid, notwithstanding the early dissolution of the previous parliament.

    • 15
      3

      Opposition – UNP-JVP-TNA should have opposed Gota’s brutal military curfew and arrests , but they are useless and just want their parliamentary perks and privileges back by convening parliament so idiot Sajith can have a national govt. with Gota..
      What a mess and farce

      • 0
        11

        Covid panic is a Hoax to destroy Asian economies and attack China. The propaganda war on China by US, Aussi and UK is on, so too the military war on Iran and China by the biggest Rogue state in the world while US buddy India is sending its military to Lanka to help out with the fake Covid panicdemic, Pompeo weeps Crocodile tears for the CIA-ISIS attacks in Sri Lanka at Easter last year, staged to set up US military camps and sign SOFA and MCC.
        The same ambassadors US, UK and Aussi who have been cheering Gota’s brutal military curfew to destroy and further debt trap the country and asset strip Lanka’s land, seas and resources and set up CIA -ISIS military bases! with the corrupt WHO tedros adhanom ghebreyesus
        Also, the Covid 19 test kits are duds, so too WHO’s and GMOA’s Covid 19 data and model are duds and India has suspended a community survey. No one in Sri Lanka has said that there were problems with the tests, because they are too stupid to think!

    • 6
      1

      Sunil, the attempt at erudition is laudable, but no one (NO ONE) in Sri Lanka is above the constitution, whether you like it or not.

      Please channel your obvious intellect towards something worthwhile that will help put arsikland on an ethical trajectory.

    • 4
      1

      Will you pl enlighten us as to who then elected the earlier parliament members thro an election which is accepted as fair.

  • 5
    4

    Yesterday, for the first time in history an oil barrel was sold (or discarded) at a rate of -39 dollars. I believe that this was a fake thing created by the US for one day to insult the perpetrators of 9/11. Today the first family of US was leaving white house and may be very soon the west will surround South China sea effectively forcing them to withdraw just as the west did 500 years ago. There is also news that India is getting ready to deploy forces to the countries including SL that surround it under cover of assisting to prevent Covid-19. Perhaps this is another thing like what Rajiv Gandhi did. This is perhaps what was in the pipe line all along.

    We must not allow any country to enter ours for anything at this critical juncture. Can our ranawiruwos show their colors and prevent this happening. The easiest thing for the rulers is to comply just like what JR did and be under the Indians indefinitely.

    • 5
      10

      Right on! US citizens Gota and brother Basil ready to set up the dictatorship with US puppet moda Modi on the other side..

      Now we know the reason for the economically devastating lock down and the Fake Covid 19 panic the American Deepstate war on China. Indian military would land in Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries with US military equipment, drones, robots, surveillane under the guise of helping out in a non-existent Corona epidemic! Check out this link:

      http://www.colombopage.com/archive_20A/Apr22_1587533517CH.php
      So the Covid 19 Panicdemic is part of the US war on China and Asia, to make America great again, using its racist- anti- Muslim and anti-China, lacky Moda Modi to divide Asia and make America great again by using the Covid 19 fake epidemic

      • 11
        0

        Fake epidemic? Do you realize that over 40,000 Americans have died, and you think this is a fake? Why don’t you go to any hospital, in any part of the world where this has spread, and see for yourself just what a “fake” this is.
        Also since you think it is a “fake” why don’t you go without a mask and PPE’s?
        Stop reading conspiracy websites.

        If you think this is making America great again think twice.
        Trump has failed to fight this pandemic, he is incompetent, and did nothing for 3 months even after the 10 warnings he received, even by his own officials, and Americans from the WHO. People are advised to wear home made cloth masks by him because he did not have the competence to order them beforehand. Not because he is saving money, like his naive supporters think, Doctors and Nurses have died without proper protective gear, as it is not available to them in that rich country. America has the highest number of infected cases, and the death rate would have been far less, had their idiotic president proactively put in measures to combat this pandemic. Now he blames everyone, even WHO for HIS failed leadership. These are facts

    • 9
      1

      “There is also news that India is getting ready to deploy forces to the countries including SL”

      At a time, when Indians are over excited seeing fall of China, this is how Modi uses COVID-19 to hoodwink his own people showing that India is becoming a regional superpower and an important nation that can supply military to the poor neighbors and medicines to the world, notably US & EU – Stupidity of Trump to call HCQ a ‘game changer’, though CNN reported yesterday more deaths among patients taking HCQ.

      Even though Indians are divided by religions and races, when it comes to seeing India on top of others, they get together unlike Sri Lankans. Modi uses this to reclaim whatever he lost due to recent discriminatory law

    • 9
      2

      Sri Lanka is broke ,no leadership, only morons and good for nothing guys who put their two cents worth not knowing how to handle any hard situations,the Prez and his brothers have a bunch of morons from whom they get counselling( because they have no brains) printing money in the billions like what Zimbabwe did a few years ago. and some idiots talking about elections as the priority ignoring the health of the citizens due to the COVID19 and on top of this a killer weather around the corner NO WONDER INDIA IS TRYING TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE NOT THE RULERS IF YOUR STORY IS TRUE. Well this is what they did when they created Bangladesh . May be who knows they are backed by the Russians and the Americans and the shady Chinese. Why not ask Shavendra what he plans to do in the event of this happening. He is just a ceremonial Private still better to consult the brains trust Wimalawansa and Gamanpilla and Mahindananda who no doubt will sell the country down the drain. After all Gamanpilla swindled an Australian for millions and Wimalawansa had a corpse in his home and his wife had multiple passports . All put together they are a great team

      • 5
        6

        Tell India to protect it’s minority first from cow vigilantes, and racist mobs, before interfering in our nations. Sri Lankans would be wise to not trust Modi and his country.

  • 4
    3

    If the story about Indians deploying their forces in SL is true, then I am sure it will be welcome news for those bashing GOSL relentlessly in this forum. Nevertheless all patriotic forces should join together and insist that GOSL should not accept any Indian forces in the country again.

    • 2
      5

      Yeah, dude the Hindians are on the way to fight Trump’s war against China in the Indian Ocean..

      Covid 19 is a fake pandemic and info-demic of media hype manufactured by WHO and it s big Pharma funders and Deepstate of course who will make millions on a vaccine – just check the figures for flu – over a billion people get it every year globally and hundreds of thousands die of influenza annually..

      • 7
        2

        “All patriotic forces forces should join together and insist that GOSL should not accept any Indian forces in the country” – You cannot remember what happened in 1987. Did India get permission to come in or did JR as a matter of saving face allowed them in. At present security of India is threatened by the presence of China in Sri Lanka similar to that in 1987 when it was threatened by USA. The world order is in chaos and free for all is going to happen. Co-Ranaviru-s get ready to hide under the bed.

  • 6
    0

    Constitutional scholars, and lawyers, should be horrified at where this is all leading.
    It does not bode well for the country.

    The common man, ignorant of our Constitution and Laws, gullible enough to vote for this American citizen, and unable to see where all the arrows are pointing, will continue to support this wanna be dictator. He will without hesitation trample on our Constitution and Laws, sacrifice the minority, and silence the media, just to achieve that family dynasty. It is all being done very gradually, with the Rajapaksa’s hoping no one is paying attention to their actions. Pay attention Sri Lanka.

  • 3
    3

    World War 3 has started in Asia under the Coronoa narrative…
    The biggest Rogue State in the world with its 800 military bases and croc. tears for the Easter Sunday ISIS bombings the CIA and Saudi SOF staged in Sri Lanka last year, has started the racist war to destroy Asian Economies and people, while manipulating Stupid Modi..
    Fasten you seat belt the worst is ahead — and not what the WHO fraud Tederos talks about.

    • 0
      3

      Saudi Arabia was fighting a war with YEMAN (may be they are pro Iran- shiite or they have oil). Some how, Saudi-Russia disagreement, once oil prices crashed, Saudi Royal family found 150 of them got Covid-19. They got angry and right away stopped attacks in YEMAN – a very poor country with no COVID-19 attacks,. Later, Saudi Royals issued a statement saying Oil price crashes affected USA petroleum production and they wished it mould be revived to the former state (they said, oil price crashing was not intended for USA petrpleum industry)..

  • 14
    0

    Months ago I wrote that Gota appointing armed forces retired and active seniors for various positions was to set up an environment to run the country under a Military Rule. He tried this when he was the Defense Secretary when Mahinda Lost the Presidency. Fortunately then Commander of the Army and the Attorney General did not support Gota’s plan to take over the Govt by the Military. Now the stage has been set by Gota and he will do it. This would be the last nail on the coffin of Sri Lanka.

  • 5
    0

    Please review this link: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/sri-lanka/

    When the cases active and total cases are increasing why not recall the Parliament? Is it to ensure that Rajapakses steal money form the Govt kitty with Basil Mr. 10% siphoning off more than 10%?

  • 1
    0

    It’s good to have a functioning parliament. The previous one may be summoned or fresh election be held.

    Holding fresh election seems to be impossible/unhealthy so some say summon the dissolved parliament.

    Is dissolved house is so politically sacred?

    Actually people hate it.

    It’s elected in controversial 2015 election where the manifesto was to rule together but it’s not happening so it’s also null & void like the presidents dissolution is argued to be null & void.

    Best thing is supporting to hold the election on June 20th in very cautious manner, spending 2 or 3 days; giving plenty of time for masses to cast vote maintaining distance & elections officials also to maintain required gap.

    Pave the way to use technology to maximum to ease difficulties.

    Why should anybody make strong arguments to display political/professional pugilism.

    Unless it’s unavoidable that the president will go without a parliament as much as he can.

  • 1
    0

    Looks like Goths aka Iron Man literally means every word he said. He wants to rule the country without parliament, constitution, consent of voting public or anything which goes with such SHAM Democrazy. He seems to be invisible as the Virus. Apparently he has called in Army to protect the empty buildings of Parliament from the Virus , (just because opposition are demanding to reconvene). Jeyawewa. Didnt I say Lankans will soon come out of Viral Pandemic in time to jump head first into much larger and virulent Political Pandemic, which is hear to stay. It is amazing to see Lankans coming out of catastrophes one after another in time, just to get into the next. We had independence (now appears getting independence it self is catastrophe), 30 years of war, couple of resurrections, one too many pogroms, Tsunami, Easter massacre, now pandemic and next —.

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