Sharp split in ‘coalition against executive presidency’

TNA, UNP MPs slam Hakeem, Rishad and Mano


By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Tamil National alliance (TNA) has accused three constituents of the UNP-led UNP government, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) and the Democratic People’s Front (DPF) of reneging on their promise to back the ongoing efforts to abolish the executive presidency. 

Jaffna District MP and TNA spokesman M.A. Sumanthiran, PC, alleged that Ministers Rauff Hakeem (SLMC), Rishad Bathiudeen (ACMC) and Mano Ganesan (DPF) were not supportive of the campaign for abolishing the executive presidency though they had promised to back it late last year.

 The TNA joined in an influential civil society grouping comprising Purawesi Balaya (PB), National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) and Left Center (LC) at a public gathering on Wednesday (March 13) at the Center for Society and Religion (CSR), Maradana, where they called for a unified effort against the executive presidency.

 The UNP led parliamentary group includes seven SLMC members (six of them were elected on the UNP ticket), five ACMC and one DPF member.

 MP Sumanthiran revealed how SLMC, ACMC and DPF leaders, having assured him of their support went back on their word at a recent meeting with President Sirisena to discuss constitutional reforms.

 PB Co-convenor Gamini Viyangoda alleged that leaders of minority political parties still believed they could secure concessions from the President of the country whichever the political party he or she belonged to than the parliament.

Had there been uncertainty on the part of any political party with regard to the executive presidential system, the way President Maithripala Sirisena acted in consent with his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa last October should have compelled political parties to take a firm stand, Viyangoda said. The civil society activist pointed out that President Sirisena could have succeeded in his despicable political project if not for the enactment of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

 Altogether 122 lawmakers representing the UNP, TNA, SLMC, ACMC, DPF and JVP moved court against the dissolution of parliament on Nov 09, 2018 to pave the way for fresh parliamentary polls on January 05, 2019.

Viyangoda emphasized that it was nothing but a myth that the executive presidency favoured minorities. The minorities had suffered untold hardships under executive presidential system, Viyangoda said, adding that in fact the first executive President JRJ, too, was responsible for the worst single atrocity perpetrated on Tamil speaking people.

Viyangoda asserted that Sri Lankan society hadn’t been able to cope up with the executive presidential system as in France or the US.

LSSP rebel Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne lashed out at those who had shamelessly sought personal benefits at the expense of national requirement to do away with the executive presidency. President’s Counsel Wickramaratne, an appointed lawmaker on the UNP National List pushed for abolition of the executive presidency, having acknowledged the inadequacy of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The President’s Counsel emphasized the pivotal importance in pursuing the matter until it was brought to a successful conclusion.

Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda, JVP MP Dr Nalinda Jayatissa and NMSJ leader Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya, too, attacked those who stood up for the executive presidency.

JVPer Jayatissa flayed for UPFA lawmakers, Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila for backing wartime Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the Opposition presidential candidate.

The split in the government camp over a high profile project to abolish executive presidency has taken place close on the heels of the JVP seeking former President and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa’s support as well as that of TNA leader R. Sampanthan.

Well informed political sources told The Island yesterday that in spite of some UNPers, including Assistant Leader Ravi Karunanayake calling for the abolition of executive presidential system, the party was yet to decide on the matter. Although, the party had decided to do away with the executive presidency some 15 years ago, the party was still preparing to face 2019 presidential election.

Minister Mano Ganesan recently declared that the UNF already decided on its presidential candidate though the identity wouldn’t be revealed yet.

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...