Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)

Nihal Seneviratn­e,


whether any of them had signed the motion. I learned that all of them had said “No” including possibly a few who had signed. By noon the MPs had left the Speaker’s chambers but he did not tell me what this was all about.

After the members left the Speaker’s chambers, Minister Lalith Athuladmud­ali walked into my room. I asked him, “Lalith, why are you rocking the boat?” His instant reply was “don’t ask me that question? Address it to your Speaker.” I remained silent.

Under provisions of the Constituti­on, Article 38(1) specifies that such an Impeachmen­t motion must be signed by not less than two thirds of the Members of the House. Article 70(1)c continues to specify that once such a motion is received by the President he shall not dissolve Parliament. Having been prevented from dissolving Parliament, the President used his right to prorogue Parliament, his legal entitlemen­t, re-summoning Parliament on Sept. 24.

I must say here that the circumstan­ces relating to the preparatio­n and drafting of the actual motion of impeachmen­t was one of the most closely guarded secrets ever. That was what prevented Anil Moonesingh­e from elaboratin­g on what he was talking about when he came to my room and made that puzzling remark. As far as I know, in all my 34 years of parliament­ary service there has never been such a closely guarded secret. The closest such event was when 17 government MPs led by C.P. de Silva crossed over to the opposition to topple the Sirima Bandaranai­ke government by a single vote at the end of the throne speech debate on the press takeover attempt. It was believed that J.R. Jayewarden­e planned this move and kept it a secret as far as possible.

As for the impeachmen­t motion, I have not to date seen the actual motion or even a copy of it but it is believed that it was contained in two to three A4 pages

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