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Time has come for President to delivered on his promises: Karu J



The time has come for the President to deliver on his recent promises, Mr. Karu Jayasuriya, Chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ), said at a news conference last week.

He stressed at the inception that “We are not expressing these views with the intention of either

overthrowing the government or coming into power. Instead, we state these views as it is our duty as citizens and as an organization to intervene in matters that affect the country and are important to the common good.”

In the course of his address Jayasuriya expressed support for a new constitution saying that the legislature needed to be strengthened and there was a need for a new constitution. But the drafting process must be properly done with expert input and respect for constitution making traditions.

Commenting on the speech made by President Rajapaksa at the army’s 72nd anniversary, he said if what was said there are fulfilled, NMSJ believed that he will be able to take the country forward and earn the respect of our society by fulfilling the wishes of the people even if delayed.

It is commendable that the president has admitted that there have been shortcomings in the last two years. During his recent meeting with the UN Secretary-General, Rajapaksa had assured he would not only establish democracy but would also protect human rights in our country.

“Now it is his job to fulfill those promises,” Jayasuriya said.

Commenting on the president’s assurance that a new Constitution and a new electoral system will be introduced to the country within the next year, he described this as “a very important and crucial announcement that will have a profound effect on this country.”

He added: “It is also commendable that he finally understands how democracy in the country has been destroyed by the adoption of the 20th Amendment which further strengthened the executive presidency.”

Saying that the vast majority of the country’s population today do not accept the current Constitution based on the executive presidency, it’s good that the president also now understands the need for a new Constitution.

He further said:

The character of this country, i.e. its sovereignty, the nature of the sovereignty of the people, social freedoms and rights as well as the independence of the judiciary, is determined by the Constitution.

NMSJ has continuously advocated the need for a new Constitution on the basis that the legislature should be strengthened.

Constitutional reform must be undertaken for the common good, with honest intentions and without ulterior motives. Those those who lead the drafting must have a high level of knowledge on legislative and constitutional traditions and these must be safeguarded. Drafting must ensure citizens’ participation and previous wrongs not repeated.

The first thing that needs to be done is to identify the basic principles on which the Constitution is to be drafted and to reach a consensus on those principles. Also, the document containing those principles should be published in advance to make the public aware of what is being proposed and discussions on drafting a new constitution based on those principles should begin only then. The new Constitution proposed must be subject to the approval of the Supreme Court.

Although, the president has once more claimed “One Country, One Law,” at present there appears to be no such policy. Those who destroyed King Buwanekabahu’s royal court are now at large holding responsible positions. Even those sentenced to death by the courts for serious crimes have been pardoned by the president. Ministers are even able to forcefully enter prisons and issue death threats to inmates. These are serious incidents.

The first thing to be done is to set an example to the country by enforcing the law in relation to such incidents and we request the authorities to do so. In a situation where death row inmates are being pardoned, we believe that the future of a popular artist like Ranjan Ramanayake must not be ruined. Justice should be delivered to Ramanayake at least now. These incidents suggested government is following two policies instead of one.

At the same time, there are serious doubts as to how the law is being enforced in relation to the Easter Sunday attack. It is a very dangerous situation. That suspicion will remain until all those who directed and supported the attack are punished. Even the Catholic Church in this country has raised its doubts. We also request the government to fully disclose the report of the Presidential Commission which, we believe, will help to dispel any doubts. Do not let this issue continue further.

We also feel that holding on to the Upali Abeyratne Commission report, which gave malicious decisions that ridicules the judiciary and the country, is a disgrace. These days there is also talk in political circles of holding provincial council and local government elections. Prior to that, the election commission and other commissions must be freed from the rampant politicization.

It is also alleged that a plan is being discussed to distribute state resources to the advantage of the ruling party during the election period. Allegations are leveled regarding an attempt to hand over the national wealth of the country in the name of rural development to political activists who are not representatives of the people. This should not be allowed. The whole country must stand up against it.

According to the reports we have received, it seems that there has been a major collapse in the country’s agriculture sector. If immediate action is not taken in this regard, a famine could occur in the country in the future. Although the use of organic fertilizer is a very valuable decision, no country in the world has done it immediately and successfully. Experts in the field are of the opinion that it should be done according to a five-year plan.

The government should keep in mind that the prices of essential commodities such as flour, sugar, gas and cement severely affects the masses. If immediate steps are not taken to strengthen the country’s economy, improve the living standards of the people and reduce the cost of living, mass protests may take place in the country.

The people of our country often hand over power and appoint rulers with the hope they will work for their welfare. Instead, whenever the government tries to oppress the people by plundering the national wealth of the country, the people who put them in power will eventually rise up against it. This is a universal reality. The fate of the rulers who do not understand this is often unfortunate. Therefore, the rulers of this country need to understand this at least now.

We are pleased that Sri Lanka has made great strides with regard to controlling the Covid-19 pandemic as well as its inoculation drive. We would like to express our gratitude and pay our respect to all those who have dedicated themselves to this cause.

Jayasuriya concluded by saying NMSJ hoped that the views and suggestions that it had made with good intentions will be brought to the attention of the president and the government.

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US Cardinal Raymond Burke has been a leader in the Catholic Church for decades (BBC)

Pope Francis is evicting US Cardinal Raymond Burke, an outspoken critic, from his Vatican apartment and revoking his salary.

Cardinal Burke is part of a group of American conservatives who have long opposed the Pope’s plans for reforming the Catholic Church.

A Vatican source told the BBC that Pope Francis has not yet carried out his intention to evict the 75-year-old and the decision is not meant as a personal punishment, the source added. Instead, it comes from the belief that a person should not enjoy cardinal privileges while criticising the head of the church.

Still, the move is “unprecedented in the Francis era”, Christopher White, a Vatican observer who writes for the National Catholic Reporter, told the BBC. “Typically, retired cardinals continue to reside in Rome after stepping down from their positions, often remaining active in papal liturgies and ceremonial duties,” he said. “Evicting someone from their Vatican apartment sets a new precedent.”

White warned that the decision could “provoke significant backlash” and deepen divides between the Vatican and the US church, where there is already “fragmentation”.

Cardinal Burke has yet to respond to the news and the BBC has reached out to his office for comment.

The Pope revealed his plan to act against the cardinal at a meeting with heads of Vatican offices last week. His frustration with US detractors who take a more traditional or conservative view on several issues appears to be coming to a boil.

Earlier this month, he fired Joseph Strickland, a conservative Texas bishop who had blasted his attempts to move the church to more liberal positions on abortion, transgender rights and same-sex marriage. The removal followed a church investigation into governance of the diocese.

A few months before, the Pope told members of the Jesuit religious order in Portugal that there was “a very strong, organised, reactionary attitude in the US church”, which he called “backward”, according to the Guardian.

Tensions with Cardinal Burke, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, have been simmering for nearly a decade, with the American prelate openly criticising Pope Francis over both social and liturgical issues.

“Cardinal Burke’s situation seems to stem from his gradual alienation from the Pope,” said  White. “It appears the Pope perceives Burke as fostering a cult of personality, centred around traditionalism or regressive ideals. This action seems aimed at limiting Burke’s influence by severing his ties to Rome.”

Pope Francis with hand up in front of Vatican building
Pope Francis waves to crowds while leaving St Peter’s Square (pic BBC)

Most recently, the cardinal held a conference called The Synodal Babel in Rome on the eve of the Pope’s synod, or meeting of bishops, last month.

He also joined fellow conservatives in publishing a “declaration of truths” in 2019 that described the Catholic church as disoriented and confused under Pope Francis, saying that it had moved away from core teachings on divorce, contraception, homosexuality and gender. Notably, he disagreed with the Pope promoting Covid vaccines.

Within church politics, he and Pope Francis were at odds over the firing of the head of the Knights of Malta after the order’s charity branch was found to have distributed condoms in Myanmar.

The Pope, in turn, has demoted Cardinal Burke within the church hierarchy or moved him to posts with less influence over the years.

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During his decades long career, Mr Kissinger played a key, and sometimes controversial, role in US foreign and security policy.

Born in Germany in 1973, Kissinger first came to the US in 1938 when his family fled Nazi Germany. He became a US citizen in 1943 and went on to serve three years in the US Army and later in the Counter Intelligence Corps. After earning bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees, he taught international relations at Harvard.

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