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

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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