Academics say General Election the best option

A group of University academics held a media briefing yesterday. Kelaniya University Lecturer Ven. Kapugollawe Ananda Thera speaking on the occasion. Picture by Malan Karunaratne

Holding a Parliamentary election at the earliest, is the best option to overcome the current political impasse, a group of University Academics said yesterday.

All political parties should agree to hold a General Election and let the people’s sovereignty prevail, the academics said.

“Enable the people to decide who their representatives should be. Hold elections to let the people enjoy their sovereign powers to elect a government of their choice”.

Attorney-at-Law Raja Goonaratne, the head of the Legal Studies Department at the Open University said addressing the media in Colombo.

The University Academics also condemned Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s conduct during the current political crisis and called his action “illegal and politically driven”.

Goonaratne said the Speaker had violated Parliament standing orders, the Constitution and Parliamentary traditions during the last few days.

Goonaratne stressed that the President had acted in accordance with the constitution when appointing Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister.

He went to say that the Prime Minister is appointed by the President and Speaker has no right to decide who should be the Prime Minister.

“The Speaker does not have any legal or Constitutional power to appoint a Prime Minister. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had been appointed by the President according to the Constitution,” he added.

Goonaratne said the Speaker had violated Parliament Standing Orders when acting on the No-Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Rajapaksa.

“In the Standing Orders, there is a clear procedure to follow when presented with a No-Confidence Motion against the Prime Minister. First a letter on the motion should be presented to the Speaker with the signatures of at least 20 MPs, then the Parliament Secretary General has to accept it and should be referred to the Parliament Sub-Committee to be included in the Order Paper, then a decision should be taken whether the matter will be given priority status and later should be included in the order paper. Then it should be printed and circulated among all MPs before finalizing a date for the debate, followed by a vote” he explained.

Gooneratne added that the Speaker had not followed any of the above. He also accused the Speaker of dancing to the tune of officials of some of the western nations in Colombo. He said the Speaker has held several rounds of discussions with the diplomats of some western nations in Colombo.

Meanwhile, Kelaniya University Lecturer Ven. Kapugollawe Ananda Kiththi Thera said the behaviour of Parliamentarians within the Chambers during the last few days should be condemned.

The Thera said the Speaker’s conduct had contributed to aggravate the situation. The Thera also called for an early general election as a solution to the current political imbroglio.

Meanwhile, Lecturer Prasad Serasinghe said the Speaker has set a wrong precedent by refusing to acknowledge the appointment of the new Prime Minister.

He said the appointment of a new Prime Minister by the President was in accordance with the Constitution.

He also said that now elections should be held to let the people have their say.

The Academics said they have filed several cases in the Commission to Investigate Bribery and Corruption against the matter and also against the former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Over 25 University Academics attended the media briefing held at the Mahaweli Centre in Colombo.

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