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Coup d’Etat in Sri Lanka: Citizens to President: respect the Constitution & revoke prorogation of Parliament

Tuesday 30 October 2018, by siawi3


Sri Lanka: Lawyers for Democracy (LfD) urges President to respect the Constitution & revoke prorogation of Parliament

Lawyers for Democracy (LfD)

Media Release

28 October 2018

Lawyers for Democracy (LfD) urges President to respect the Constitution & revoke prorogation of Parliament

On 26 October 2018, President Maithripala Sirisena purported to remove the existing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and purported to appoint Mahinda Rajapakse MP as the new Prime Minister. Having examined the legal position, LfD concludes that this move is clearly unconstitutional and undemocratic for the following reasons:

a) The 19th Amendment has restricted the President’s powers in relation to Parliament as well as Cabinet, including removal and appointment of a Prime Minister. Power to remove the Prime Minister, previously vested in the President, was entirely removed by the 19th Amendment, which was introduced to ensure that arbitrary powers exercised by prior executive Presidents could not undermine basic democratic governance. This change was intentional.

b) The concept of a Unity Government, set out for first time in the 19th Amendment, is not linked to the Appointment or Removal of a Prime Minister. There is no direct consequence of ending a Unity Government for the dissolution of Cabinet or removal of the Prime Minister.

c) Appointment of a Prime Minister under Article 42(4) of the Constitution can arise only when there is a vacancy by virtue of a fresh election, resignation and on the removal consequent to a no-confidence motion. Thus the appointment of Mr Mahinda Rajapakse as PM is void, given the absence of any of the three above conditions to date.

d) Interpretation Ordinance provision that the appointing authority can remove the appointed has no application here as there is a specific procedure for removal of a Prime Minister specified under Article 46 of the Constitution.

e) Any further actions by the President to appoint Ministers without the advice of a constitutionally appointed Prime Minister also lack legality and are void.

LfD believes that the current constitutional crisis over the PM post must be democratically and peacefully resolved before a court of law or on the Floor of the Parliament through demonstrating majority support for either Prime Minister Wickremasinghe or Mr Rajapakse. However, the President’s actions to prorogue Parliament until 16th November 2018 deprive the Parliament from taking up and resolving this matter. The context in which the President has acted is contrary to very essence of the 19th Amendment and basic fundamental values of the constitution. The action of the President, a reminiscent of a constitutional coup, is also contrary to the mandate given to the President at the 2015 January Election.

The President should immediately revoke the prorogation or summon parliament so as to de-escalate the constitutional crisis created. To fail to do so will be in breach of his responsibilities under the 19th Amendment to uphold the Constitution of In Lanka.

Conveners, On behalf of Lawyers for Democracy (Lai Wuenayaka, K.S. Ratnavale, JC Weliamuna, Sunil Jayarathna, Lakshan Dias, Sudath Nethisnghe, Harishka Nadeeshan, Prabodha Rathnyaka)



Sri Lankan Citizens condemn the President’s actions and call for Parliament to be convened!

by Citizens Movement
The petition already collected 15 000 signatures in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Citizens condemn the President’s actions and call for Parliament to be convened immediately!

28th October, 2018

We the undersigned Sri Lankan citizens strongly condemn the steps taken by President Maithripala Sirisena to prorogue Parliament soon after he purportedly removed Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe as Prime Minister, and appointed Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa as a new Prime Minister. President Sirisena’s action is in clear violation of the Constitution in terms of the specific safeguards introduced by the 19th amendment to the Constitution, a constitutional amendment President Sirisena championed and claimed as part of his legacy. President Sirisena’s conduct is also against the core principles of a transparent and democratic governance which was the mandate upon which this Government was elected to power.

President Sirisena’s decision to prorogue Parliament strongly suggests that Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa does not control the support of the majority of the Members of Parliament. As such, this entire chain of events can only be described as an attempt to capture and consolidate the power of government through extra constitutional methods.

The Government in which Mr. Wickremasinghe is the Prime Minister, was a flawed political configuration which, did not deliver on most of its major campaign promises. However, during the past 3 years this government effected a few important changes which expanded democratic space within Sri Lanka, and contributed in varying degrees, to the space for dissent and free expression. The attempt to capture government power by Mr. Rajapaksa and his allies, without even a pretence of a democratic mandate, raises legitimate fears that Sri Lanka will return to a time in which the Constitution and rule of law were disregarded, the media, ethnic and religious minorities and all those critical of the government were attacked and suppressed, using a variety of tactics and no commitment to a lasting peace and reconciliation within Sri Lanka.

As a people who have witnessed and suffered a protracted war and its aftermath, we deserve and demand a better form of governance than what we have witnessed in the actions of President Sirisena since 26 October 2018. While there is no doubt as to the illegality and undemocratic nature of his actions, the recent decisions taken by President Sirisena has created a constitutional crisis. There is grave uncertainty both locally and internationally as to who represents the legitimate government of Sri Lanka. This uncertainty poses a significant danger to the lives and livelihoods of Sri Lankan citizens, particularly those pursuing rights and justice, protesting families and victims from the North and East, and the national economy. It is the duty of the State to protect all persons including those most vulnerable to attack and ensure their safety. Therefore;

- We call upon President Sirisena in his capacity as the President, to immediately reconvene Parliament and allow for a Parliamentary process to resolve this uncertainty.

- We call upon Mr. Wickramasinghe and Mr. Rajapaksa to strongly and publicly urge the President to immediately reconvene Parliament.

- We also urge Mr. Wickramasinghe and Mr. Rajapaksa to ensure their supporters and allies do not act in an unlawful manner that will imperil the lives of citizens.

- We call on all Public Servants to discharge their duties in accordance with the law and resist all illegal orders and any attempt to influence their functions by those purporting to wield illegal and unconstitutional power.

- We call upon our fellow citizens to be resolute in defence of democracy even if it means taking to the streets. To recognise that a commitment to constitutional principles, democratic governance and the peaceful resolution of this crisis, is much more important than individual political affiliations, and to echo our calls to immediately reconvene Parliament and allow for a Parliamentary process to resolve this uncertainty.

We specifically reiterate, that regardless of the outcome of any Parliamentary process, all branches of Sri Lankan government are obligated to uphold the fundamental rights of its people as enshrined in the Constitution, and fulfil its international commitments on the protection of human rights. Further, we urge the officials of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, to act according to the law, and ensure accountability to the people of Sri Lanka. .

Statement in Sinhala -

Statement in Tamil -