Dec 05, 2018

Country is without govt. - what is the next move?

President Maithripala Sirisena has accepted that there is no government in Sri Lanka following the interim injunction issued by the Appeal Court against the functioning of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s premiership and the 49-member cabinet.

Some legal experts say a legitimate government ceased to exist from the day parliament passed the no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa and his cabinet on November 15.

Refusing to reappoint Ranil Wickremesinghe as the PM, president Sirisena yesterday (04) summoned ministry secretaries and instructed them to continue with the public services without any interruption.

Speaking to BBC Sinhala Service, legal experts said the constitution had no special provisions to tackle the present situation, which was a first in Sri Lanka.

What can happen?

Dr. Dinesha Samararatne of the University of Colombo’s law faculty said that in the absence of a PM and a cabinet, the president is given all the executive powers.

But, there is an opinion that since the October 26 appointments had been deemed unconstitutional, the status quo that existed before that comes into effect.

President’s counsel Prasantha Lal de Alwis says the president now had several options, the first being to appoint a new PM and a new cabinet.

Another is to continue with the administration through ministry secretaries.

Also, the president can withdraw the gazette notification that announced the dissolution of parliament, said the PC.

Dr. Samararatne noted that there should be an immediate solution to the prevailing political situation.

President has no powers

Meanwhile, UNP MP J.C. Alawathuwala said in a statement that the constitution gave no powers to the president to issue orders to ministry secretaries.

It is against the constitution for the president to influence the ministry secretaries, he said.

PC de Alwis said that in the absence of ministers, the head of the executive could administer the ministries through their secretaries.

If the court decision is taken carefully, it is evident the interim injunction has been issued in consideration of the fact that the damage is worse if the cabinet continues than in a situation where there is no cabinet, he said.

However, Dr. Samararatne said the president has no powers to administer the ministries, other than the ministries of defence, Mahaweli and environment which are vested in him as per the 19th amendment to the constitution.

She said that in her opinion, political leaders should get together and revert back to the situation that existed before October 26.

Meanwhile, MP Mangala Samaraweera said in a twitter message that the only solution to come out of the political crisis was to move an impeachment motion against the president.