“Showdown in Sri Lanka: PM’s sacking sparks constitutional crisis” France 24 Debate

Regional players China and India are keeping close tabs on the Sri Lankan president’s decision to sack Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replace him with the country’s longtime strongman, Mahinda Rajapaksa. But Sri Lanka continues to have duelling prime ministers. We look into the cause and the legality of the recall, a test for the nation’s democracy. It was on Rajapaksa’s watch that a civil war ended with the crushing of Tamil Tiger rebels. Could the turmoil in Colombo reopen wounds?



Former Governor of the Eastern Province


Director of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center


Research Associate, Centre for Studies on India and South Asia


Sri Lanka Project Director, Crisis Group


” Sri Lanka to probe hidden foreign assets after Rajapaksa defeat” by Shihar Aneez

(Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s new government is to investigate “black money” transferred overseas by powerful figures in the administration of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, a cabinet spokesman said on Thursday.

via: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/22/us-sri-lanka-politics-corruption-idUSKBN0KV20J20150122

“Diabolical Plot of Opposition Paves way for International Probe on “War Heroes” in the guise of a Domestic Inquiry” by C.A.Chandraprema

“The most diabolical and fiendishly clever policy position that the common opposition has taken is that they will not allow our war heroes to be tried by any international war crimes tribunal, but that any allegations of war crimes will be looked into by a domestic tribunal. The common opposition candidate himself has come before the people and pledged publicly that no international war crimes tribunal will be allowed to try any war hero. However he has given a statement which was carried in The Hindu and the Indian Express to the effect that a domestic mechanism would be set up to look into allegations of war crimes. This was later confirmed by Champika Ranawaka. The people of this country have got used to the idea that what is bad is an international inquiry into war crimes. By the mere addition of the word ‘domestic’ most people would be lulled into a sense of false security on the assumption that since such an inquiry will be conducted by ‘our people’ the war heroes will not face any problems.”

via: http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/36676

“Banyan: A fault in his stars ?” by The Economist

Mr Rajapaksa’s popularity is slipping. The SLFP won provincial elections in the southern province of Uva in September less comfortably than expected. At the last presidential poll in 2010, soon after the war, Mr Rajapaksa took 57% of the votes (less if you accept claims of modest rigging), so not a landslide. Assume that Tamils, Muslims and Christians, who are 30% of the electorate, mostly prefer Mr Sirisena, then even a third of the Sinhalese vote could swing it in his favour. The stars still probably favour the president, but horoscopes often disappoint.

via: http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21635072-mahinda-rajapaksa-expected-coronation-instead-he-faces-tricky-election-fault-his-stars?fsrc=email_to_a_friend

“Sri Lanka’s Presidential Election: Risks and Opportunities” by International Crisis Group

With the police and judiciary more fully politicised since then, the chances of a free and fair election are remote. The independent election commission was abolished in 2010, and the election commissioner’s many past calls to respect election law have had little effect. September’s provincial council elections in Uva province featured high levels of violence against the opposition. The stakes for the Rajapaksas are even higher than in 2010, given their many new domestic enemies and the growing international pressure over their failure to investigate alleged war crimes and serious human rights violations during the war.


“Statement in Response to the Supreme Court Reference No 1/2014” by CPA

7 November 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is alarmed at recent developments related to Supreme Court Reference No 1/2014 and the processes sought to be used to legitimize a potential third term for President Mahinda Rajapaksa. On 5 November the media reported President Mahinda Rajapaksa as having referred the following questions to the Supreme Court to seek its opinion under Article 129(1) of the Constitution:

a. Whether in terms of Article 31 (3A)(a)(i) of the Constitution, as amended by the 18th Amendment, I, as the incumbent President, serving my second term of office as President, have any impediment, after the expiration of four years from the date of commencement of my second term of office as President on 19th November 2010, to declare by Proclamation my intention of appealing to the People for a mandate to hold office as President by election, for a further term? 


b. Whether in terms of the provisions of the Constitution, as amended by the 18th Amendment, I, as the incumbent President, serving my second term of office as President, and was functioning as such on the date the 18th Amendment was enacted, have any impediment to be elected for a further term of office?

These questions were sent by the Registrar of the Supreme Court to the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) requesting its membership to submit written submissions by 3pm, 7 November.

CPA, has subsequently learnt of an in camera sitting by the Supreme Court on 5 November, the same date on which the letter was sent to the BASL. In light of the public and constitutional importance of the issues at stake, Dr. P. Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of CPA filed a motion in the Supreme Court today 07 November requesting that an oral hearing be granted, and followed with his written submissions, in the firm belief that an oral hearing will be provided, as has been the practice in the past.

CPA’s concerns on this matter were articulated in a statement issued on 23 October and warrant reiteration here. With the incumbent President having more than two years remaining of his present term, CPA sees no urgency for the Supreme Court to have a hearing that is shrouded in secrecy and one which, deprives citizens of their right to be heard on a significant national question that will define the future of Sri Lanka.

See this press release on our website here and download it as a PDF here.

“Sri Lanka president adamant on barring U.N. war crimes investigators” by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal

Sri Lanka will deny visas to United Nations’ investigators probing accusations of war crimes as it strengthens a domestic panel looking into allegations related to its 26-year war, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Tuesday.

via: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/19/us-sri-lanka-rights-idUSKBN0GJ0NT20140819

“Rajapaksas’ Cousin Jaliya Caught In The Act – Ordered To Pay Back” by Colombo Telegraph

Cousin of President Rajapaksa – Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador to USA has been gravely cautioned over the financial misconduct allegations against him and has been ordered to pay back over Rs. 45 million that he had swindled through financial misappropriations.

via: https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/rajapaksas-cousin-jaliya-caught-in-the-act-ordered-to-pay-back/

“The Curious Case Of Jeyakumari” by Tisaranee Gunasekara

“Similarly, the persecution of Ms. Jeyakumari foretells the future fate of Southern dissidents.

The Tiger leaders betrayed their followers and their community, as the embarrassingly-unheroic dénouement of the Eelam War demonstrated. The Rajapaksas are sacrificing Sri Lanka to their power-hunger. The plight of Jeyakumari Balendran and her little daughter is symbolic of the LTTE’s failed struggle and of the Rajapaksas’ failing peace.”

Via https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-curious-case-of-jeyakumari/

source:Colombo Telegraph

“Satire in Sri Lanka: Sour Puss” by The Economist

In a dismaying reflection on the state of the freedom of expression in Sri Lanka, people regularly ask Mr Kamardeen how he has gotten away with the Puss plays for so long. He isn’t robbing a bank, he replies. He is only writing a play. He is supposed to get away with it.

Via http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/12/satire-sri-lanka

source: www.economist.com

“Cameron ‘good to his word’ in tackling Rajapaksa on human rights” by Channel 4

David Cameron met Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, for a one-to-one meeting on Friday afternoon, following his return from Jaffna, in the Indian Ocean island’s former conflict zone.

Channel 4 News understands that the encounter was “pretty lively”, and the 45 seconds’ worth of television footage that has been released is revealing.

The prime minister is shown leaving the meeting, brushing past Sri Lanka’s high commissioner to London, who tried to engage him in conversation, before pacing past the camera with pursed lips. There is a strong sense from the pictures of the meeting having been brusque, curt and frosty.

A source who was present at the bilateral said the British prime minister had “repeatedly and robustly” raised war crimes allegations, human rights and freedom of the press.

– See more at: http://blogs.channel4.com/miller-on-foreign-affairs/cameron-good-word-tackling-rajapaksa-human-rights/512#sthash.k3oE0KDn.dpuf

Source: Channel 4

“Democracy And Freedom, Medamulana-Style” by Colombo Telegraph

In Rajapaksa Sri Lanka there is freedom to say anything, so long as you do not criticise the Rajapaksas (even ministers are fair game, but not the ‘First Family’). In Rajapaksa Sri Lanka, there is freedom to do anything, so long as you do not use it to demonstrate or organise against the Rajapaksas.

That is democracy and freedom, Medamulana style.

Via https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/democracy-and-freedom-medamulana-style/

source: Colombo Telegraph

“From devolution to the deep blue sea” by Dayan Jayatilleka (The Hindu)

New Delhi, which failed to militarily support an unambiguously pro-devolution President Kumaratunga during the Tigers’ siege of Jaffna in 2000, did not extend the requested and requisite degree of military support to Mahinda Rajapaksa in an equation that would have linked such support to political progress in lockstep as it were. Instead of simply insisting on the implementation of Sri Lanka’s own constitutional provisions (obviating the need for protracted, problematic talks with the TNA and the reinvention of the wheel), it was persuaded into echoing President Rajapaksa’s promise of 13 Plus. No wonder it finds itself in a dilemma on the next steps.

Via http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/from-devolution-to-the-deep-blue-sea/article4823985.ece

source: The Hindu