Change of govt. unconstitutional but reality has to be accepted – MS

‘Decision-making apparatus necessary to accommodate protesters’ representatives’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Ex-President and SLFP leader Maithripala Sirisena has acknowledged that the change of government was not in line with the Constitution, but current circumstances have compelled political parties represented in Parliament to work closely with those who overthrew the government through unconstitutional means.

Sirisena revealed that he had met a group of representatives of the protesters, following Saturday’s take over of the President’s Office, the President’s House, and Temple Trees.

A mob even torched the private residence of the PM.

The former President said so in a conversation with Asoka Dias on Sirasa ‘Pathikada’ programme yesterday (11) morning.He said the President and the PM were yet to resign, and the public had seized power. There was no point in denying that reality, he said, emphasising that the President, the Prime Minister and the Parliament had lost the power to make decisions.

Sirisena reiterated his and others’ demand for both the President and the PM to quit without further delay.

The former President appeared on live ‘Pathikada’ programme a few hours before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa informed the Prime Minister’s Office of his decision to resign tomorrow (13).

Responding to issues raised by interviewer Dias, MP Sirisena said that the seizure of government buildings and the developing situation posed such an almost insurmountable challenge, the crisis couldn’t be addressed through constitutional means. Lawmaker Sirisena asserted that under the present circumstances the constitution was irrelevant. Therefore, the Parliament had no option but to reach consensus with those who toppled the government as regards a workable plan, the MP said. According to the former President this is the reality against the backdrop of the President, and the Prime Minister losing their authority.

Lawmaker Sirisena said that MPs declaring themselves independent of their political parties they represented posed quite a challenge to the Speaker as well as leaders of political parties. The SLFPer suggested that perhaps one or two MPs could represent dissidents at party leaders’ meeting but it wouldn’t be realistic to accommodate them all.

The former President also questioned the appropriateness in members of the Cabinet quitting their portfolios as the appointing authority, the President, was nowhere to be seen. Among those who resigned in the wake of Saturday’s turmoil was SLFPer Mahinda Amaraweera and successful businessman who recently turned politician, Dhammika Perera.

Responding to a query on international reactions to the toppling of the government, ex-President Sirisena said that he received assurances from Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Gopal Baglay and Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong as regards their support. MP Sirisena quoted the top envoys as having told him political changes were immaterial and their commitment remained.

Declaring that the public had rejected both President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe, lawmaker Sirisena stressed the urgent need to set up a mechanism to accommodate representatives of the grouping that campaigned for the change of government. Sirisena said that such an apparatus was required to prevent unnecessary issues that may jeopardize the proposed all-party administration.

The ex-President said that he was quite happy over the toppling of the government marked by seizure of key government buildings. However, the SLFP regretted that some valuable items belonging to the State had been removed by those who had entered those buildings. That shouldn’t have happened, he said, paying a glowing tribute to protesters who handed over Rs 17,850,000 after recovering the bundles of currency at the President’s House.

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