Dec 02, Colombo: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa says only in Sri Lanka that political parties agitate against holding of a general election that has already been declared but the only way to restore stability to a destabilized democracy will be through a general election.
In a lengthy statement issued on Sunday (December 02) from the Prime Minister's Office, Rajapaksa said according to the country's constitution, sovereign power is vested with the people, not the parliament and emphasized that this power is being implemented through universal suffrage.
Explaining the powers vested in President Maithripala Sirisena by the constitution to dissolve parliament, PM Rajapaksa noted that in the gazette notification dated 09 November 2018 issued by the President in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the Parliamentary Elections Act, dates had been fixed to call for nominations from the 19th to the 26th November, to hold the poll on the 5th January 2019, and for the new Parliament to meet for the first time on the 17th January.
"If things had gone accordingly stability would soon have been restored to this country," he said.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa discussing the local government elections held last year said certain individuals had petitioned the Court of Appeal against the holding of the local government elections citing delimitation issues and when the government reluctantly agreed to hold elections, the petitioners withdrew their petitions. "It was quite clear in that instance that the court procedure was being misused for a political purpose," he said.
The Prime Minister recalling that his government held the Eastern Provincial Council election in 2008 even before the war had ended, pointed out that today, six of the nine provinces in the country do not have functioning provincial councils.
The previous government put off provincial council elections indefinitely by deliberately refraining from fulfilling the conditions relating to the delimitation of constituencies in Act No. 17 of 2017, he said.
PM Rajapaksa accused the UNP and its affiliated political parties of making misleading statements from the political platform with a view to deceiving the general public.
He claimed that from the time of the first Parliament, elections were called early whenever necessary to overcome situations of political turbulence.
"The UNP and its allies claim that the 19th Amendment repealed and replaced the old Article 70(1) of the 1978 Constitution, and that according to the new article 70(1), the President cannot dissolve Parliament until the lapse of four and a half years. They claim that an early dissolution will be possible only if Parliament passes a resolution by a two thirds majority requesting the President to dissolve Parliament. All the provisions relating to the dissolution of Parliament in the 1978 Constitution, were found in the old article 70(1) before the 19th Amendment. If those provisions have been abolished, then there are no provisions in the present Constitution to dissolve Parliament in the event of a government losing a vote of no confidence, the vote on the budget or the statement of government policy," Rajapaksa explained.
"Such restrictions are completely contrary to the Parliamentary tradition," he said.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa analyzing constitutions of Britain, India and France on powers given to Heads of States to dissolve parliament said Sri Lankan head of state is an Executive President directly elected by the people and it has been clearly stated in the Supreme Court determination on the 19th Amendment that the power that the sovereign people have vested in the President cannot be removed without a two thirds majority in Parliament and a referendum.
He interpreted that even though it is claimed that the President's power to dissolve parliament that had been provided for in the old Article 70(1) have been removed, what has actually happened is that those provisions have been taken to another part of the Constitution.
Concluding his lengthy statement, the Prime Minister said Sri Lanka must learn from the experiences of other democracies.
"Since the dissolution of Parliament and the holding of fresh elections will have implications for the person ordering such actions as well, no head of state will take such a decision lightly. Such a decision will be made only in serious situations. The only way to restore stability to a destabilized democracy will be through a general election. According to ow Constitution, sovereignty is vested in the people and not in Parliament. The manner in which the people exercise their sovereignty is through the franchise. I invite all those who respect democracy to give careful thought to these matters."