Sri Lanka parliament sacking against constitution: lawyers collective

ECONOMYNEXT – The sacking of Sri Lanka’s Parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena is clearly unconstitutional and undemocratic, a lawyers grouping has said.

"This arbitrary move is clearly both unconstitutional and undemocratic," Lawyers for Democracy said in a statement.

"The unconstitutionality is stark, in as much in Article 70 of the Constitution expressly prohibits the President from dissolving the Constitution by proclamation without 2/3rd of the Parliament approving a resolution requesting him to do so, at any time during the first 4-1/2 years of its term."

The lawyers  argued that the parliament has not been duly dissolved and the speaker could still convene the parliament on November 2018 as planned.

Sri Lanka’s United National Party and several activists are expected to go to court against the dissolution of parliament next week.

The full statement is reproduced below:

"We note with grave concern that President Maithripala Sirisena has plunged Sri Lanka into further political turmoil with his decision to purportedly dissolve the duly elected Eighth Parliament of Sri Lanka with effect from midnight of 09 November 2018. This arbitrary move is clearly both unconstitutional and undemocratic.

The unconstitutionality is stark, in as much in Article 70 of the Constitution expressly prohibits the President from dissolving the Constitution by proclamation without 2/3rd of the Parliament approving a resolution requesting him to do so, at any time during the first 4-1/2 years of its term. However, not only has he sought to do so without receiving such a constitutionally required Parliament resolution, but he purports to do so, while actively obstructing Parliament from meeting, despite repeated calls and a written request from a majority (116) Members of Parliament that Parliament must meet to demonstrate who enjoys the majority confidence of the House, based on which the Speaker made earnest repeated requests of the President, which have been ignored.

The obstruction of Parliament by a sudden prorogation was done without consulting the Speaker as per Parliamentary tradition, and as part of a design to purport to replace and supplant Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with Member of Parliament, Mahinda Rajapaksa (former President). This was done, after a previous move to remove Prime Minister Rani] Wickremesinghe two months ago failed to muster a majority in Parliament.

Consequent to such purported removal of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and moves to allow Member of Parliament, Mahinda Rajapaksa to take over such role, by a later backdated gazette notification, the lawful Cabinet of Ministers was also declared as dissolved, in an effort to justify steps taken to make purported new appointments of Cabinet Ministers, unconstitutionally.

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We note with grave concern and disappointment, that having contested the January 2015 Presidential Election as a common candidate to defeat the repressive regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa and having publicly pledged to re-establish the Rule of Law, President Sirisena has now betrayed the confidence of 6.2 million citizens who reposed in him, the confidence to establish democratic values and an ethical society.

We also note with concern, tint the purported appointment of a new cabinet of Ministers during the last two weeks, is most evidently conducive to greater and easier abuse of state resources during a potential election.
President Sirisena has by his unconstitutional actions, also now exposed individuals in all sectors, who acted honestly and in a forthright manner in furtherance of their duty towards good governance, to grave risk of retribution at the hands of a potentially repressive regime, which would derive its existence and de facto power by unconstitutional means. The collaborative /collusive role and hand of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa in all these events, is beyond doubt.

Considering the grave predicament the country has now been plunged into, while strongly condemning the unconstitutional dissolution of Parliament, Lawyers for Democracy urge the Election Commission to act with fortitude and ignore the unconstitutional decision of the President to hold a general election while the Eighth Parliament of Sri Lanka has not been duly dissolved, but remains obstructed from meeting by unconstitutional, repressive and undemocratic measures. We are firmly of the view that there is no legal impediment to the Speaker’s right to convene the Eighth Parliament on 14th November 2018, as planned.

We further reiterate that it is the duty of all actors and citizens to respect, uphold and defend the Constitution (the Supreme Law) in this perilous situation, where unconscionable, unpatriotic, diabolical and manifestly collusive, collaborative measures are being taken by President Sirisena and Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa to bury constitutional process and protections as never before, depriving the People of Sri Lanka of the very essence of assured democratic governance.
 

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