UNP, TNA, JVP to challenge dissolution
Three major parties to petition Supreme Court; Polls Chief says he has no mandate to seek legal opinion on President's action
Ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe declared that his United National Party (UNP) would go to court to challenge the dissolution of parliament and insisted that President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa could not face a floor test in Parliament.
He told the Sunday Times that neither of them could show a majority to prove they commanded the confidence of Parliament.
"They could not face a floor test and have instead committed a fraud on the people. The people have been asked to suffer for the personal ambitions of some. This is not Yahapalanaya, but Yamapalanaya”, he said.
The comments came as several political parties, including the the Tamil National Alliance ( TNA) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna ( JVP), decided to go to the Supreme Court to challenge President Sirisena’s decision to dissolve Parliament.
Since the President’s Friday night
surprise dissolution of Parliament, little over three years into its five year term, parties opposed to the move have been saying he has acted unconstitutionally and has violated the provisions of the 19th Amendment which bars a dissolution by the President until Parliament completes four and half years of its five year term.
Senior UNP member Manga l a Samaraweera said yesterday that the party would fight the President’s "tyranny in courts, in Parliament and in a poll, if necessary.”
“We will challenge this in the court, but we will also show that we have the support of the majority of MPs who made up Parliament so that we can prove that the President dissolved the House when one side had a majority,” he told reporters last morning.
Meanwhile, United National Front ( UNF) leaders, including Champika Ranawaka and Rajitha Senaratne, met Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday.
“We requested that the election be held in keeping with the law and in keeping with the Constitution,” former UNP State Minister Ajith Perera said.
JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said his party would challenge the President’s decision. “His arbitrary actions have put the entire country in jeopardy. If we allow the President to dissolve Parliament at his whim and fancy, if he cannot get the result he likes in the January 5 poll, he can dissolve the House again," the JVP leader said.
The Sunday Times learns that the Election Commission's three members met yesterday to discuss the next move to be taken to conduct parliamentary elections within a short period.
The Election Commission has no mandate to seek legal opinions on the validity of the dissolution and the commissioners have decided not to express their opinions on the pending legal challenges, until the issue is resolved by the Supreme Court.
“Several political parties have approached us to go before the Supreme Court, but that is not our mandate. We are part of the executive and we have to go by the President's decision," a senior Elections Department official said.
Election Commission Chairman Deshapriya yesterday told journalists that “interpreting the constitution is up to the Supreme Court and lawyers, not us”.
Referring to a meeting with the President on Friday, he said it was not a “consultation’.
“I met the President, but he and I only spoke on the possibility of holding Provincial Council elections within three months. I met him on behalf the EC. Later, on Friday evening, I was asked to meet him, then he had prepared the gazette and he told me that parliament was dissolved. There was no consultation with the EC; there is no need to consult the EC to dissolve parliament," he said.