‘Riding the Wave’
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has recently lifted two-decade long State of Emergency that gave the government extraordinary powers to utilize the armed forces for maintaining public security and to restrict civil liberties in the country. The government received accolades from its supporters for its democratic action and even its critics in the opposition welcomed the new development. However, as things stand in Sri Lanka today, there is little hope that the lifting of the Emergency will change anything on the ground. The legal basis for the demolition of the State of Emergency has been the extraordinary power vested in the Presidency by the constitution. The power to call out the armed forces to maintain public order is vested in the President. Also, the military is empowered to continue to undertake their duties as it did under Emergency Regulations. The presidential power thus indicates a strong centralization of power in the country which if not checked can lead to a loss of faith in the efficacy of other in-
stitutions by the people at large. This can lead to more volatile sections of the population to take matters into their own hands thereby defying the very purpose of Sri Lanka lifting its State of Emergency and struggling to portray itself as a peaceloving nation.
S.J. Fernandez, Colombo, Sri Lanka