Wijeyadasa on Parliament dissolution : President well within Constitution | Sunday Observer

Wijeyadasa on Parliament dissolution : President well within Constitution

In the wake of a probable conflict between the Executive and the Legislature, President Maithripala Sirisena had no option other than dissolving Parliament, Minister of Education and Higher Education, Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe told a media briefing at the Government Information Department yesterday.

Even though there are divergent views with regard to the President’s power of dissolving Parliament, the Constitution clearly indicates the power vested in the Executive to dissolve Parliament, Dr. Rajapakshe said.

The Minister said according to Article 33 (2) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, the power of the President to dissolve Parliament is clearly provided for as follows: “In addition to the powers, duties and functions expressly conferred or imposed on, or assigned to the President by the Constitution or other written law, the President shall have the power – (c) to summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament”.

“Even though Article 70 (1) of the Constitution states that a two-third majority of Parliament members can pass a motion to dissolve Parliament, it is just a measure taken to stabilise the check and balance system between the Executive and the Legislature,” the Minister said.

“The country was moving towards a conflict between the Executive and the Legislature. The President needs the support of the Cabinet to perform his Executive powers. The Cabinet is selected from the legislature. If there is a conflict between the two institutions, a ‘Constitutional deadlock’ will arise. The President is obliged to take action in such a situation and he was compelled to dissolve Parliament,” he said.

“In 2002/03, the Supreme Court clearly stated that the President is above party politics. The President shall be the leader of the country, leader of the government and leader of the Cabinet. When Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne tried to change it and make the Prime Minister the leader of Cabinet and the Government in May 2015, the Supreme Court determined that it has to be passed with a two-third majority and a referendum. Then we discussed it again and brought the 19th Amendment. Article 62 (2) categorically states that the President is empowered to dissolve Parliament,” the Minister said. Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Nimal Siripala de Silva said that the President decided to dissolve Parliament after consulting legal experts. “Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe brought the 19th Amendment to Parliament as the Justice Minister in 2015. Therefore, he knows all particulars of the Amendment. On the other hand, the President won’t take arbitrary decisions such as dissolving Parliament. The Executive President has the power to continue the stability of the country. We as the SLFP joined the National Government, upon President’s request to maintain the political stability of the country.

The Speaker of Parliament now strives to make the country unstable by assuming power which he doesn’t have. Hence, the President took the best decision in calling for a General Election where the people could decide on the government, which is the best democratic approach to resolve the matter,” he said. Commenting on the behaviour of the Speaker, Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama said that Speaker has assumed executive powers of the ministers and paved the way for a conflict between the Executive and the Legislature.

“The Speaker has very limited powers which are confined only to Parliament. He has no party. His dress and behaviour shows the impartiality. But, his recent conduct has breached this impartiality. When Parliament is reconvened, the President should deliver the policy statement. Earlier, it was called as the Throne speech. It’s parliamentary tradition. If the Speaker says that he will go for a vote, as the first thing in the reconvened Parliament, it’s a serious violation of Parliament’s Standing Orders,” Dr. Amunugama said.

“Now he (the Speaker) is involved in discussions with foreign missions. He is assuming the duties of the Foreign Minister. If he continues to do so, a major crisis between the two institutions was inevitable. Therefore, the President rightfully decided to go for a people’s mandate. That is the true and best democracy,” he said.

Answering a question raised by a journalist, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said that the President has no need to seek the opinion of Supreme Court upon dissolving Parliament as Constitutional provisions to dissolve Parliament are very clear. Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe as the Minister of Education and Higher Education said that the Government will take steps to avoid probable disturbances that could occur on account of the GCE Ordinary Level examination which falls in December, due to election canvassing, after a discussion with the Election Commission.

He said that the Election Commission also has no power to seek the Supreme Court’s opinion on the President’s power to dissolve Parliament. 

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