Sri Lanka Speaker attempts damage control after Presidential outburst

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s parliamentary Speaker tried to assure members of independent commissions that he had confidence in them despite President Maithripala Sirisena’s recent outburst questioning their integrity.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya is also the Chairman of the Constitutional Council, which appoints chairmen and members of the independent commissions established in line with the 19th amendment to the constitution.

"Severeal chairmen and members questioned if higher echelons of government had any concerns about the work," the Speaker said in a statement issued today amid a deepening crisis over President Sirisena’s remarks on Wednesday.

The Speaker’s statement came as the Director General of the independent Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) resigned in protest.

Related: Sri Lanka political crisis deepens as Bribery DG quits

CIABOC DG Dilrukshi Wickramasinghe became the first member of an independent body to resign in protest over interference by the executive into the work of the anti-graft commission, whose independence is guaranteed by the constitution.

The Speaker did not  refer to Wickramasinghe’s resignation, but said there was no disagreement between the President and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe over the functioning of the independent bodies.

Jayasuriya also did not refer to Sirisena’s remarks accusing the CIABOC of prosecuting three retired admirals and former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa without informing him (Sirisena).

The President also made it clear that the quartet should not have been hauled before courts and there should have been some respect for their contribution to crush Tamil Tigers in 2009.

Jayasuriya, however, asked all independent bodies to continue their work,  saying the people had high hopes that the institutions will deliver results.

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President Sirisena returned to the island on Monday evening from neighbouring India, while Prime Minister Wickremesinghe is still in Brussels, negotiating tariff concessions from the European Union. (COLOMBO, Oct 17, 2016)

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