President constitutionally elected - HR activist and legal expert | Sunday Observer
“Maintain good name of one of the oldest democracies”

President constitutionally elected - HR activist and legal expert

23 July, 2022

Ranil Wickremesinghe is the constitutionally elected President of this country, and there was no other way to elect a President following President Gotabaya Rajapaksa tendering his resignation to Parliament, Human Right activist and legal expert Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa said yesterday and added that the people of Sri Lanka should act with responsibility to maintain its good name as one of the oldest democracies in the world with a Parliamentary system.

Dr. Mahanamahewa said that those who respect democracy and decent citizens should wait until a new election is held to choose new members to Parliament if they did not like the outcome of the vote held in Parliament to choose an interim President to run the remaining tenure of Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

“Trying to obstruct institutions such as the President’s office, the Presidential Secretariat, the Prime Minister’s office, their official and private residences is not the answer except that such actions may be viewed as criminal possession of state institutions and private property, and obstruction of the functions of the Government,” he said.

He said this in response to the Sunday Observer query about the action taken by the Security Forces to remove Galle Face Aragalaya protesters from their occupation near the Presidential Secretariat.

He said that the Speaker and Parliament had performed an important duty by holding an election in Parliament to elect the President in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, and that criticising them for carrying out their Constitutional duties would only draw negative attention from other democratic nations.

“The Speaker, Parliament, and the people as a whole have allowed for the peaceful transfer of power within the norms of democracy,” he said.

“The incumbent President Wickremesinghe would only be able to dissolve Parliament in four years from the beginning of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official tenure in accordance with the country’s Constitution,” he said and this is recognised by the 20th and the 19th Amendment.”

“If you do not like it, you may, alter the Constitution, may as well bring a new Constitution to the fore by way of democratic norms and practices, with respect to the existing rule of law,” he said.

The new Government is expected to move towards forming a multi-party government, a compromise being necessary, he said.

“Now that the Government is led by Ranil Wickremesinghe of the United National Party and Dinesh Gunawardena of the Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna, we expect representatives from other political parties represented in Parliament to join the Government in leading this country and making concerted efforts to lift the country out of its current economic crisis,” he said.

“The clergy too has a role to play in soothing the minds of the nation in this difficult time,” he said.

He said the Government and the people should get their act together and that they should not pave the way for agitations and breaches of human rights, he said and added that the Geneva Human Rights sessions will be held in September.

If the security personnel had acted beyond the law and beaten up Galle Face Aragalaya protesters in their attempts to remove them from their locations of protest camps near the Presidential Secretariat or other institutions, the Government will have to investigate such instances and punish those responsible.

In carrying out its administration, the Government must guarantee that adequate attention is paid to satisfy the people’s food, fuel, health, and other basic necessities, rather than securing privileges, he said.