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SJB tells govt.:Elections not prerogative of President



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) lawmaker Harshana Rajakaruna yesterday (18) said that calling of regular elections couldn’t be under any circumstances the prerogative of any President.Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), still the party with the largest group in Parliament, should be ashamed of its response to President Ranil Wickremesinghe putting off the Local Government polls indefinitely, the SJB MP said in response to The Island query regarding Chief Opposition Whip Prasanna Ranatunga, MP, backing the indefinite postponement of the LG polls.

MP Ranatunga, over the weekend, declared that President Ranil Wickremesinghe would hold what he called, an election suitable for the country at an appropriate moment.The Gampaha District MP, who is also Urban Development and Housing Minister, said that they should continue with the rebuilding process of the national economy

until President Wickremesinghe decided on an appropriate election.The Minister said so, addressing members of the Gampaha District SLPP operations committee at the Reggie Ranatunga Commemorative hall, Udugampola, Gampaha.

MP Rajakaruna pointed out that postponement of the LG polls couldn’t be justified against the backdrop of the Supreme Court ruling issued on 03 March, this year, pertaining to a fundamental rights application filed by SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara.

The former UNP MP said that the appointment of Cabinet ministers was the prerogative of President Wickremesinghe, hence the delay in expanding the Cabinet-of-Ministers though the SLPP submitted a list of nearly a dozen names last July. But, the President couldn’t decide when to conduct elections, MP Rajakaruna said, adding that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government obviously felt uncomfortable holding the election.

MP Rajakaruna asked the SLPP whether it wanted President Wickremesinghe to decide on presidential and parliamentary polls without adhering to the election map. Referring to President Wickremesinghe’s declaration at the National Law Conference at Nuwara Eliya that the people weren’t interested in elections at the moment, MP Rajakaruna alleged that the powers that be seemed to be conspiring to side-step elections.

“LG polls were sabotaged against the backdrop of all Provincial Councils being under the executive rule by way of Governors running the show. Now, President Wickremesinghe has appointed new Governors for four of the Provinces,” MP Rajakaruna said, warning of possible moves to put off presidential and parliamentary polls. The MP referred to reports that the UNP may consider a referendum to extend President Wickremesinghe term.

UNP leader Wickremesinghe received appointment as the 8th executive president with the SLPP’s backing in July last year to complete the remainder of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s five-year term won at the November 2019 presidential election.

MP Rajakaruna questioned the rationality in Minister Ranatunga’s claim that the JVP led the campaign for LG polls. The Chief Government appeared to have quite conveniently forgotten that the SJB sought Supreme Court intervention to hold LG polls. In fact, most of the Opposition, including the rebel SLPP group, wanted LG polls as soon as possible, MP Rajakaruna said,

Responding to another query, MP Rajakaruna said that President Wickremesinghe’s reluctance to face the electorate at the moment is quite understandable. Having been reduced to just one National List slot in the 225-member parliament, the UNP feared elections at any level, MP Rajakaruna said.

“The UNP is in a deepening dilemma. Can UNP leader Wickremesinghe depend on the SLPP, especially against the problematic environment caused by their failure so far to reach consensus on Cabinet appointments,” MP Rajakaruna said.

Referring to continuing controversy over several Bills, including one on broadcasting regulatory commission and counter terrorism law, MP Rajakaruna emphasized the government was seeking to consolidate power outside the electoral process. Those Bills, if enacted, posed quite a challenge to democratic Opposition, MP Rajakaruna said, urging the government to release funds required to conduct the long delayed LG polls or face the consequences.

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United Republic Front presents ‘A united step for the country’ to the President




Leader of the United Republic Front Member of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka, presented the proposal titled “A United Step for the Country” to President Ranil Wickremesinghe , at ‘Srikota’, the United National Party headquarters in Colombo this morning (24).

Speaking at the event President Ranil Wickremesinghe, highlighted the government’s concerted efforts over the past two years to stabilize the country’s economy, which had faced significant challenges. Stressing the government’s commitment to steering the economy towards recovery through strategic reforms, the President expressed his determination to continue these initiatives with the collective support of everyone.

Recalling his open invitation to all political parties to unite under a common agenda for the country, regardless of political differences, the President reiterated his willingness to embrace constructive proposals from all political parties as part of the nation-building efforts.

The President responded positively to the request made by Member of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka to allow other political parties to participate in the upcoming negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month concerning the restructuring of foreign debt.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, responding queries about the scheduling of elections, affirmed that the Presidential Election will proceed as scheduled, with the General Election anticipated to take place early next year.


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Opp. fears govt. discarding SC recommendations on ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill



Prof. G. L. Peiris

Prof. Peiris highlights need for ex post facto judicial review

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris, MP, said that Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena’s refusal to accept that Supreme Court recommendations hadn’t been accommodated in ‘Online Safety Act No 09 of 2024’, would undermine their faith in the committee stage of a particular Bill.

The dissident SLPP MP said so when The Island sought his opinion on the SC determination on the ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill.

Against the backdrop of the continuing controversy over the circumstances under which the Parliament enacted the ‘Online Safety Bill’, the Opposition was seriously concerned about the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government adopting the same strategy in passing the ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill.

Prof. Peiris emphasised that the Speaker even ignored the Human Rights Commission advice that SC’s recommendations hadn’t been accommodated. The academic, who recently aligned himself with the SJB, said that the genuine Opposition shared his concerns.

Several parties challenged the ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Bill in the SC in terms of Article 121(1) of the Constitution. The determination of the SC as to the Constitutionality of the Bill concluded as—

(a) Clause 3, Clause 42, Clause 53, and Clause 70 of the Bill are inconsistent with Article 12(1) of the Constitution and required a special majority to be passed by Parliament.

(b) However, the SC stated that the said inconsistencies can be ceased if the said Clauses are amended as per the Determination of the Court.

(b) Clause 4 has to be suitably amended as per the Supreme Court Determination. Clause 72 (1) is unconstitutional and needs to be passed by a Special Majority and a Referendum. The unconstitutionality will cease if this Clause is amended as per the Determination of the Supreme Court.

(c) Correspondingly, Clause 72(2) must be amended in accordance with the Determination.

(d) Clause 75 (3) infringed the Article 4 (c) read with Article 3 of the Constitution and required 2/3 majority and a Referendum. The invalidity will cease 7 upon the amendments suggested in the Determination.

(f) Clause 83 (7) requires a special majority to be passed into law. It has to be suitably amended as per the Supreme Court Determination.

Further, the Supreme Court has determined that subject to the amendments that have adumbrated to the provisions of the Bill by the Supreme Court, the Bill could be enacted into law with a Simple Majority only if the amendments determined by the Supreme Court are introduced to the provisions.

Prof Peiris said that the crisis highlighted the need for ex post facto judicial review, for which there is at present no provision in Sri Lanka. The position is otherwise in countries like the USA and India where an Act of Parliament can be impugned, even after completion of the legislative process, on the ground of conflict with imperative provisions of the Constitution. Such provision existed in Sri Lanka prior to the First Republican Constitution of 1972.

The former minister said that in the draft Constitution Bill which he presented to Parliament on 3 August 2000 on behalf of the Government of President CBK, appropriate provision in this regard was included. “Unfortunately, the Constitution was burnt in the Chamber of Parliament. This gap in our law should be filled, in my view, when a comprehensive exercise in constitutional reform is undertaken by a new Administration after the conduct of national elections this year.”

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US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Verma visits Sri Lanka



Deputy Secretary of State of the United States of America Richard Verma visited Sri Lanka from last Thursday to yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release.

The visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and delegation had extensive discussions with Foreign Minister Ali Sabry at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on further strengthening bilateral cooperation. The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State also paid a courtesy call on President Ranil Wickremesinghe following the discussions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, while appreciating the humanitarian and emergency assistance granted by the U.S. to overcome the economic challenges encountered by Sri Lanka, welcomed the recent US$ 553 million development assistance extended by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation to the Colombo West International Terminal Private Limited. He also appreciated the U.S. assistance in securing the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) from the IMF.

Foreign Minister Sabry briefed Deputy Secretary of State Verma on Sri Lanka’s priorities as Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association and the opportunities to foster collaboration in blue economy and maritime security in the region to promote freedom of navigation for all and for the facilitation of trade and commerce. He also apprised the Deputy Secretary of State of the Government’s efforts to further strengthen governance, democracy, and rule of law, as well as to combat corruption.

Deputy Secretary of State Verma while noting the encouraging progress in Sri Lanka following the economic downturn in the last two years, assured continuous U.S. assistance to the country towards economic prosperity.

The Deputy Secretary of State was accompanied by the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung, senior officials from the White House National Security Council, U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Defence. Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Jauhar and senior officials of the Foreign Ministry were associated with the Foreign Minister at the meeting.

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