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Sumanthiran blames it all on President

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Tamil National Alliance (TNA) lawmaker M.A. Sumanthiran told Parliament on Wednesday that although the Parliament should be dissolved, the MPs would vote against a motion to dissolve it, hoping that such tactics would help them outlast the people’s discontent.

Sumanthiran said that during recent Parliament sittings there had been examples of those delaying tactics.

“For almost 40 days, people have been on the road, saying “Gota Go Home”. But those who call themselves people’s representatives who come and sit here are deaf, they cannot hear that. They can’t even agree to take up for discussion a matter that people have been shouting from the streets. This is unprecedented in this country. For over a month not just in one place, but in several places.

MP Sumanthiran said that as the people’s representatives, those in Parliament should be prepared to discuss the issues and concerns raised by the people. However, those in Parliament were ignoring the people and that showed that the parliament also had lost its legitimacy, he said.

“It is not only the President who lost his legitimacy; this Parliament also has lost its legitimacy. Parliament must be dissolved, but again when it will be put to a vote here, and MPs who are holding on to their positions will vote against that motion to dissolve Parliament. The MPs think that delaying tactics will allow them to carry on. However, this is not possible and the Parliament is pushing the people of this country to seek other remedies. That is the danger of not giving the voice of the people an expression here. This danger you don’t seem to understand,” he told Parliament.

The TNA MP said that the President had declared a state of emergency. Article 155 (4) 2 of the Constitution said that ‘if the Parliament is at the date of the making of such proclamation, separated by any such adjournment or prorogation as will expire within 10 days, a proclamation shall be issued for the meeting of the Parliament within 10 days”.

However, since Emergency was declared on 06 May, 11 days had elapsed since the next Parliament meeting took place, Sumanthiran said.

“There’s a gap of over 10 days, the Constitution very specifically says that if it is separated by longer than 10 days another proclamation shall be issued summoning parliament. That wasn’t done. Article 42, which I read earlier in the day, says the President is responsible to this Parliament not only for his duties, performance, powers and functions under the constitution or written law but also for the law for the time being relating to public security. He has failed, even in the most recent exercise of his powers under the public security ordinance. Where the constitution says he shall make another proclamation summoning parliament, he hasn’t done that. He has not done that. So that is just the most recent one,” he said.

The TNA MP said that they condemn the counter violence against the politicians of whichever side. However, they also condemn the violence that started it all on the morning of 09 May, he said. The beginning of the violence lies at Temple Trees, he said.

“The Attorney General has named 22 people. Because until then the police won’t act. The Attorney general whom we have criticized as being partial, as being the person withdrawing the cases against politicians on the government side, is now trying to redeem himself. How many of them are members of this house? All on the government side. The attorney general whom you appointed who has been acting on your side, now he is naming Government members and he has said “arrest them” including the senior DIG for Colombo for allowing this to happen. But eventually the buck stops with the president. He was in-charge. He was in-charge of the security. He held the post of defence minister and that of internal security,” the TNA MP said.

Sumanthiran said some government MPs claim that the police did not intervene when their houses were attacked, that the police looked the other way and that the police did not even record the numbers of the motorcycles used by the assailants.

“Now who was in-charge of the police at that time? Your own President! Your President! And when we moved to discuss a matter – a motion of censure of the President, you protect him. You blocked that motion. How is this possible? The very person who allowed your house to be destroyed, the very person who allowed attacks by all those assailants on peaceful demonstrators at Galle Face the other day. It took more than an hour for those assailants to walk from Temple Trees to Galle Face after destroying the shelters that had been put up by the demonstrators outside Temple Trees. What was the President doing? For one full hour? He was just watching. Must have thought, jolly good, let them destroy Gotagogama also. I’ll take two for the price of one! After they did the Temple Trees he must have thought, bonus for me also let me get this also out, otherwise how do you explain? President who is functioning from the President’s house, not seeing for over an hour these assailants coming and mercilessly attacking unarmed, peaceful protestors,” he said.

Sumanthiran said that the one who allowed that attack, more importantly the one who allowed attacks on MPs’ own houses, is the President. The President destroyed the economy of this country. After carrying out a number of initiatives that the Opposition parties warned against, Gotabaya in his address to the nation said he had made wrong decisions and that he was sorry, the TNA MP said.

“When you say I made wrong decisions the next line must be “therefore I resign.” That is the democratic tradition. My decision on “chemical fertiliser was wrong” he says, my decision in delaying going to the IMF was wrong he says. So, resign! Take responsibility! Why only the Central Bank Governor and the secretary to the Treasury? The final decision was by the President. Now that is one thing, what happens about all this violence? And the government members unashamedly are standing here complaining about the violence against them without condemning the person who is responsible for that violence. Without condemning the person who allowed that violence to happen against themselves,” he said. (SI)



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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