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* Sri Lankan President defends impeachment, calls for religious harmony
Tue, Jan 29, 2013, 10:31 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 29, Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the decision to impeach the former chief justice was taken after careful considering the recommendations of an independent specialist committee.

Addressing heads and chief editors of electronic and printed media Monday night at the Temple Tress, the President said the opinions of four veteran professionals have been considered before deciding to impeach Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake.

He pointed out that the Constitution has vested powers in the Parliament to submit an impeachment motion to review the discipline and conduct of higher judges and the parliamentary select committee that investigated the chief judge has been appointed confirming to the Constitution.

President Rajapaksa added that the government decided to conduct a sensitive probe on the former top judge after the opposition parties and media presented information against the former chief justice on her misconduct.

Responding to questions by media personnel, the President said that the most suitable person has been appointed to the post of Chief Justice.

He explained that certain interest groups are using the impeachment process to bring allegations against the country at international stage.

Addressing the issue of changing the Constitution, the President said that a Parliamentary Select Committee has been appointed to look into the matter of amending the Constitution. He said it is a normal situation to amend a country's constitution based on contemporary needs.

During the meeting with the journalists, President Rajapaksa also requested the media not to create religious divisions in the country and perform the national duty of creating national and religious reconciliation.

Speaking of the visit of three US state officials, the President said that there had been no pressure from the US and the government approved their visit.

Ministers Basil Rajapaksa, Keheliya Rambukwella, Professor G.L. Peiris, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and the Secretary to the Media Ministry Charitha Herath also attended the meeting.

(Photo by Sudath Silva)

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