22 August, 2019

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Sri Lanka Heading Towards Fresh Political Crisis As President Tries To Derail Easter Sunday Probe

By Rasika Jayakody

Rasika Jayakody

Sri Lanka is on the threshold of a fresh political crisis. President Sirisena, afraid that he will be implicated by the findings of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing Easter Sunday attacks, has resorted to subversive methods to derail the process. At an ’emergency’ Cabinet meeting called on June 7, the President said there would be no more Cabinet meetings until the sessions of the PSC are suspended.

By not convening the Cabinet, President Sirisena intends to grind to a halt the state machinery thereby scuttling the government. All-important decision-making, typically conducted during the Cabinet meetings, would come to a halt, heightening public resistance to the government. 

The President hopes this will pressure the UNP to suspend the sessions of the PSC, which have already cast aspersions on the President’s ineptitude as Defence Minister. 

The President’s action stems from his fears the findings of the PSC will show him responsible for security lapses leading to the Easter Sunday terror attacked. If the President is found culpable, it would hinder his ambitions for re-election, and he could even be impeached by Parliament.

This is not the only spanner thrown by the President into PSC proceedings; also on June 7, he said he would not allow any security officers in active duty to appear before the Committee. It is clear the President was shaken and angered by the testimonies of former Defence Ministry Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, IGP Pujith Jayasundara (who he sent on compulsory leave) and former DIG of the Terrorist Investigations Division (TID) Nalaka Silva. Their statements indicate that the President, who took complete control of the defence apparatus last year, criminally downplayed the threat of a terror attack in Sri Lanka.

Jayasundara, who has already filed a Fundamental Rights petition against his removal from post, also testified that the President had offered him an ambassadorial post if he accepted responsibility for the security lapses leading to the Easter Sunday terror attacks and resigned from office. Fernando, a one-time confidantè of President Sirisena, also made it clear that the President had maintained unofficial channels of communication with State Intelligence Service Chief Nilantha Jayawardena, rendering his debriefing to the President as Defense Ministry Secretary irrelevant.

The statements from Fernando and Jayasuriya allude to how the defence apparatus was made dysfunctional by a President who lacked the intellectual substance to function as a line minister to so critical a subject such as national security.

The President’s comments of June 7, that he would not allow any serving officer in the defence establishment to testify before the Committee, is also an indication he is not beyond committing a gross interference of the legislature.

Be that as it may, the Cabinet has made it clear it is not in a position to accommodate President Sirisena’s demands. The Constitution does not allow Ministers to influence the affairs of a PSC.  And in a vicious reaction to the ministers’ refusal to act on his demand, the President has decided he will not convene the weekly Cabinet meetings on Tuesday.

The President’s actions have demonstrated his inability to comprehend the basic functions and separation of powers of the Executive and the Legislature. The country is heading fast towards a fresh constitutional crisis—the second in six months sparked by him.

It is also clear that the President is emboldened by the UNP’s disregard for any violation of the Constitution. Even when they took up cudgels in the name democracy after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was unceremoniously sacked during the ‘Constitutional Crisis of 2018’, the battle ended the minute the Premier regained his seat. On the eve of his reappointment, party second-in-command Sajith Premadasa assured the President that there would be no impeachment motion brought against him for violating the Constitution. Premadasa betrayed the 51-day struggle for the restoration of a legal government in Sri Lanka in that one statement, brought about by all those that mobilised for democracy.

Even after the resolution of that political crisis, a group of UNP MPs formed a ‘Sirisena Nikàya’ within their own camp to completely disregard the aspirations of those who demanded the restoration of Parliamentary democracy in Sri Lanka. Instead of holding Sirisena accountable for blatantly violating the Constitution, this group covertly supported his every move to undermine the duly appointed Cabinet.

It was also a startling revelation after the Easter Sunday attacks, that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene had not been invited for the National Security Council meeting by President Sirisena since the conclusion of the Constitutional Crisis in late 2018. What was even more alarming, was that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and his party had not taken issue with the exclusion, until 259 citizens paid the price for the criminal negligence on Easter Sunday.

It is for these reasons that President Sirisena has focused on derailing the PSC by not convening the Cabinet and disrupting other affairs of the government. The President clearly believes the UNP will ultimately cave and he will manage to manipulate the PSC into submission.

It is the duty of the Parliament to hold President Sirisena accountable for his actions. Unfortunately, the UNP has proven to be incapable of leading the process. Instead of offering a solution to the current conundrum, the UNP has become a part of the problem, making it abundantly clear to socially and politically conscious citizens, they must look elsewhere for a solution.

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Latest comments

  • 18
    0

    Sajith’s appeasing words in reply to the sudden gush of fury and vitriol by the President on the day the government was reinstated was unfortunate. He need not have given the assurance that the President would not be impeached. Sometimes it is better for him to keep his counsel. A promising fellow like him should know to keep his cards close to his chest.

    • 4
      5

      Violation of Constitution is Normal in Srilanka. After all it is not a Holy Bible or a Holy Quran to follow them to the last letter.

      • 1
        0

        MY3 is a clown who isout of his depth and floundering and sinking, but US puppet Bondscam Ranil is the sinister and diabolical villain who has destroyed the economy and security of the country and allowed the US to wage an economic war and weaponize religion in Sri Lanka in order to set the country on fire and turn it into a US military base.
        All bondscam Ranil’s policies to debt trap the economy and asset strip and sell off SOEs are drafted in Washington DC by MCC-IMF-WB.
        US has give Ranil the assuarance that USwar -Peace Corps due to invade Sri Lanka in October, 150 volunteers with full diplomatic immunity and more Fake ISIS personnel will run social media to ensure that RW wins the elections. This PSC circus is making Ranil who has done all the dirty work behind the scene seem innocent bu the MCC Compact will spill the beans on Ranil who must be impeached.

      • 1
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        Easter PSC probe is a distraction and media entertainment from the sale and privatization of national assets to the US MCC and to implement SOFA agreements.
        USA first debt traps countries and then loots their assets. In Sri Lanka Trumpland wants a navel base to choke China.
        Check out UP puppets Bondscam Ranil and his Financially illiterate Finance Minister’s latest plan to compromise national security and destroy the economy by setting up data platforms for their US sponsors to control SOEs.
        http://www.colombopage.com/archive_19A/Jun12_1560321187CH.php
        CT should do a story on this, rather than BBS-NTJ thug fights! Proper investigative journalism rather than muck-rake is needed!

  • 4
    0

    As previous political crisis become putrid Fresh political crisis-es are manufactured.

  • 6
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    My3 must come clean on why he chose to ignore the impending threat, even after so many warnings from various reliable sources. We, definitely need to get to the bottom of it. Whether it was genuine negligence on his part, or was it done on purpose to gain disingenuous political leverage, or to further foreign influence to cause instability in the region, or may be a myriad of other reasons. As affected citizens, we the people need to know. In any case, his body language and sinister ploys to scuttle the process, basing it on security exposure of vital military strategies and their personnel, does not hold water. We know he is covering up and has been compromised. His behaving this way can only make matters worse, and will do nothing to prevent a repeat of this in future governments. God save Sri Lanka.

    • 1
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      God save MY3.

  • 3
    2

    Raska, What do you mean by “elsewhere”? If you mean MaRa clan, unless you are brain-dead, you should remember that we have been there already; that 44 journalists couldn’t make alive to see the light of 19 A while other were lucky enough to survive with bruises; that the country was buried under mountains of debts; and that the whole nation was terrified by White Vans under the so-called “elsewhere” that ended at the end of 2014! However, if you mean a new leadership from UNP, then it makes sense b’cos no other “elsewhere” exists a capable group of people who can run a decent Gvt. Current UNP may be not the best, but it is the only better choice we have now! Looking any other “elsewhere” is like cutting off the nose to punish the face!

  • 9
    2

    Mahinda & Gota claimed that they won the war with the LTTE. They won the war but in reallity It is Pirabhaharan who won the struggle. The country lost its peace permanantly after 2009. The power struggle within Buddhist Sinhala politicians circle. Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism and Islamist Fundamentalism who worked together during the war with LTTE to massacre thousands of civilians gave a new dimension to the Terrorism. The international community (USA, China, Europe, India) all together landed permanantly. Where are we now? There is no government, no president, no constitution, no law and order. Pirabhaharan is the only person who really understood the mentality of Buddhist Sinhala Politics.

  • 2
    0

    ..
    ..
    No doubt President is directly responsible. Impeachment will bring Ranil into power.
    ..
    This is the plan to secure his political career. Hence why the JVP has brought the no confidence vote against the government.
    ..
    We are in a pickle and either way it is disastrous.
    ..
    Practically the no confidence vote against the government will not win. Impeaching the President will cripple us for a few months but the result might not be what we think.
    ..
    During these uncertain times if community violence come to the lime light then no God can help us. If US comes in say good bye to tomorrow.
    ..
    Only way forward is quietly but peacefully educating each other to face the next election as a one nation.
    ..
    ..

  • 0
    0

    Excellent article Ajit. Buddhist Sinhala Politics has ruined this Country.

  • 0
    0

    under ranil the unp has become an elephant without a trunk or tusks
    he is too weak to take on sirisena
    if the unp continues to have him as leader it is doomed
    sajith is no better another hamlet lacking the drive and ambition of his father
    karu is the only hope at present

  • 0
    0

    If the president is incompetent to be a line minister. How can he be competent to be the president?

  • 1
    0

    From a political stand point it is very clear that the PSC process has been commenced purely to target the president while the perpetrators of the massacre and their political masters can go unscathed.

  • 0
    0

    Sirisena has done more damage to the country than prabhakaran or saharan
    This fool doesn’t understand the gravity of his actions. We are very unfortunate to have this fellow as president

  • 0
    0

    All are playing politics and then blame that justice is denied. Politicians should not be given excess powers which then become a tool for corruption. Police also exercise too much power and intimidate public. Judiciary also take very often unnecessary steps to punish citizens without proper reasons. The reacent case where a woman wearing a dress with ship’s steering wheel was remanded for some time. The police did wrong, so did the magistrate. Now the OIC has been allegedly transferred. Obviously the magistrate is also wrong. The woman should be compensated with the those who did the mistake should be educated further as to how to judge. The women is charged under one clause and those who damaged property at Udugampola are charged under another clause. The police action needs to be investigated. Who is going to do this? The citizens? Obviously crisis will continue.

  • 1
    0

    While some readers of CT clamour to support one political party or leader over the other, many do not seem to remember that they’re all in one large group, who take turns at pillaging the country and raping its resources with impunity. Some become like “King of Kaekilley” and walk about nude in public while others prey on the gullible and await their turn at disgorging the remains of the country, much like vultures and hyenas…there’s probably only the skeleton left, if the treasury or finances are any indication of economic performance in “the Wonder of Asia”..

  • 1
    0

    this bas—- sirisena does not understand a thing. His mental capacity is such. He has done more damage than Prabaharan and saharan. Anyway he is driving into his final few months, after he is cicked out he should be tried and given the capital punishment by the hangman. He is a dirty bas—-. So selfidh and shortsighted,

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