Sri Lanka President faces fresh challenge over his mental health

ECONOMYNEXT – President Maithripala Sirisena Monday faced a new challenge from an unexpected source questioning his mental condition to govern the country as a political crisis triggered by him dragged without any sign of resolution.

A public interest case was filed by a woman activist identified as Thakshila Jayawardena who argued that “irrational” behavior of the president was due to severe stress of adjusting to an urban life style, depression caused by the recent arrest of his chief of staff while taking a bribe and genetics.

Attorney Sisira Kumara Siriwardena said he hoped the Court of Appeal will take up the case, although many in the legal fraternity casts doubts if it will be entertained as the president enjoyed immunity.

“We are asking that he be subjected to an examination by a board of doctors at the Angoda mental hospital to establish if he is of sound mind,” Siriwardena told reporters outside the court.

He said Sirisena’s daughter’s book entitled “Janapathy Thaatha – President father“ spoke of mental illness running in the family. That could be the explanation for some of his controversial actions and statements recently, the lawyer argued.

He said the case was filed as a public interest litigation and they expected to be heard by the courts which are currently hearing several other action against Sirisena’s recent decisions to sack parliament as well as his prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

A decision on the legality of Sirisena dissolving parliament on November 9 is due to be delivered later this week. The hearing in that case ended on Friday and a decision was expected on Monday, but lawyers said they now expect a judgment anytime between Wednesday and Friday.

Another decision on the legal authority of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cabinet to hold office is also expected later this week. (COLOMBO, December 10, 2018)

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