Impeachment and US In­ter­fer­ence

Southasia - - Briefing -

Pres­i­dent Mahinda Ra­japaksa’s impeachment of the Chief Jus­tice of Sri Lanka, Shi­rani Ban­daranayake has shaken the foun­da­tions of an al­ready frag­ile Sri Lankan government. Although the impeachment re­sulted with dif­fer­ences in opin­ion be­tween the government and the ju­di­ciary, Sri Lanka’s na­tion­al­ist group be­lieves it to be a part of an in­ter­na­tional con­spir­acy.

Most re­cently, three US of­fi­cials vis­ited Sri Lanka. Their visit, the first af­ter the impeachment, comes dur­ing a time of po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity where the government and the ju­di­ciary are caught in a tus­sle. US in­ter­est in Sri Lanka’s in­ter­nal mat­ters has raised con­cerns among na­tion­al­ist groups who be­lieve that the ar­rival of US rep­re­sen­ta­tives to mon­i­tor the impeachment process threat­ens the in­de­pen­dence of Sri Lanka’s democ­racy and ju­di­ciary.

The leader of Sri Lanka’s op­po­si­tion and the United Na­tional Party (UNP), Ranil Wick­re­mas­inghe is of the view that the impeachment has given life to in­ter­nal rifts within the government. While the impeachment process, backed by a two-third ma­jor­ity, gave the government some sort of le­git­i­macy, it has in essence lost all power. More­over, some Sri Lankan min­is­ters ei­ther voted against the impeachment or did not vote at all thus in­val­i­dat­ing the government’s pop­u­lar claim that the impeachment brought democ­racy into the coun­try. Coali­tion part­ners of the government ex­press con­tra­dict­ing views re­gard­ing the impeachment and con­sider it an ac­tion that threat­ens equal­ity. The leader of the op­po­si­tion has made it clear that the UNP must come into power to end Ra­japaksa’s regime but even within the op­po­si­tion, se­ri­ous rifts ex­ist. While the government is tack­ling the impeachment process, the op­po­si­tion ar­gues that the government’s sup­pres­sion will end only when op­po­si­tion par­ties show unity.

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