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* UNP MP seeks action against communiqué issued by Foreign Ministry Secretary during 52-day political crisis
Thu, Apr 11, 2019, 09:29 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 11, Colombo: United National Party (UNP) parliamentarians Mujibur Rahuman has written to the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya requesting him to take action against a communiqué issued by the Foreign Affairs Ministry to all the Sri Lankan missions overseas for contempt of parliament and breach of privilege.

In his letter to the Speaker, MP Rahuman says that on 10th November, 2018, the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ravinatha Aryasinha had sent a fax message to all heads of overseas missions and posts informing the dissolution of parliament

The message, Rahuman says is defamatory to the Speaker as it states that "The reason for the President's decision (to dissolve the parliament) was the state of uncertainty that prevailed regarding the anticipated behavior of the Speaker of Parliament.

"The attention of the President was drawn to the information that contrary to the Constitution and Standing Orders of Parliament, the Speaker, without due authority, was attempting to change Parliamentary procedures and not proceed with the statement of Government Policy that was to have been delivered by His Excellency the President on the 14 of November, 2018, on which date Parliament was scheduled to be reconvened by Gazette Notification," the Foreign Secretary's fax message said.

MP Rahuman points out that statement "anticipated behavior of the Speaker" obviously is something that exists in the mind of the writer and does not refer to any actual act done by the Speaker.

"This is defamatory of the Speaker in that it accuses the Speaker of creating uncertainty (it is not clear whether the reference is to uncertainty in Parliament or the Country)," Rahuman wrote.

He further points out that the communiqué accuses the Speaker of acting in contravention of the Constitution (which is an impeachable offence) and the Standing Orders.

MP Rahuman detailing chronology of the relevant events after President Sirisena's unconstitutional dissolution of parliament, says the references to the Speaker are clearly defamatory and made punishable by the Parliamentary (Powers and Privileges) Act.

The UNP parliamentarian requested the Speaker to inquire into this matter and "take such action as you deem appropriate in the circumstances to protect the dignity of the Speaker and of Parliament."

President Maithripala Sirisena set off the 52-day political crisis when he sacked the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa to the post on October 26 and formed a new cabinet. When the Rajapaksa and his cabinet could not muster enough support from the legislature, the President by a gazette notification dissolved parliament on November 9th and called a snap election.

Hearing the petitions fundamental rights filed by political parties and civil society groups against President's action, Sri Lanka's Supreme Court on 13 December 2018 ruled that President Maithripala Sirisena's decision to dissolve Parliament was unconstitutional and illegal.

On 14 November Parliament ruled that the removal of Wickremesinghe was unconstitutional. He was subsequently re-appointed as Prime Minister on 16 December 2018.

 

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