Harim Peiris

Political and Reconciliation perspectives from Sri Lanka

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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Chief Minster Wigneswaren breaks with TNA and forms the TMA

Posted by harimpeiris on November 1, 2018

By Harim Peiris

(Published in Groundviews)

As the term of office of the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) concludes this month, Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, elected from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), actually from the Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK, the TNA not being a recognized political party or alliance), finally and formally broke with the TNA and announced his plans to form a new party, the Tamil Peoples Alliance, perhaps as the successor of the Tamil Peoples Forum which he oversaw and patronized,  for the last several years. As Justice Wigneswaran prepares to form his new political party and take on the traditional ruling elites of the Tamil people gathered under the banner of the Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) led Tamil National Alliance (TNA), it would be useful to examine the track record of the man who would seek to unseat or replace, one of the current pillars of Sri Lankan politics, the veteran Rajavarothian Sambanthan, as the leader of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

Despite the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009 and the existence of provincial councils in the rest of the country, the Rajapakse Administration’s policy of seeking to govern in peace time, as in the time of war, meant that it was disinclined to fulfil its constitutional obligation to constitute the Northern Provincial Council. It took increasing international isolation and lack of sympathy for the hardline Rajapakse Administration internationally, to coax it to hold the first ever post-war provincial elections in the North as a concession and constitute the NPC.

Despite the stellar efforts and the example of the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC), which initiated the first step in the defeat of the Rajapakse Administration by refusing to give accent to the “Divi Neguma Bill” and initiating the successful Supreme Court challenge to the same, which consequently saw Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranaike impeached by an over-confident Rajapakse Administration, thereby commencing the slippage of its Sinhala support, who still hold the judiciary in high esteem. The Northern Provincial Council (NPC) under Chief Minister Wigneswaran became a strange creature. It neither had the political imagination nor the courage to take on the Rajapaksa’s at the center as the EPC democratically and judicially did, nor did it go about the urgent task of providing relief and bettering the lot of the people of the Northern Province, all of whom had been at the center of a war for close upon three decades. In fact, in the first year of the NPC’s administration it actually returned unspent money to the Treasury in Colombo, for projects that had been approved and funded but not implemented. In the second year, the Chief Minister engaged in a financial sleight of hand to prevent returning the money and donated all remaining funds to provincial public libraries in the North, in a process which barely passed muster with the relevant Financial Regulations (FRs).

Instead, the Chief Minister busied himself with a rather impractical and  unproductive agenda of passing an endless array of resolutions in the NPC, which dealt with various issues, mostly in the area of accountability during the war years, but this too selectively and with no mention of LTTE culpability or responsibility for the LTTE international crimes of child conscription and assassination of democratic (unarmed) political opponents and dissidents. He was also unwilling to support the resolution which called for the return of and restitution to the Muslims who had been evicted (ethnically cleansed) from Jaffna by the LTTE during the war.

With the change of government in 2015, there was a significant change of policy by the Government towards the Northern Province. For the first time since 1999 and only second time ever since 1982, the Northern Province had voted for the winner of the presidential election in Maithripala Sirisena and that by a huge margin of nearly 75% and President Sirisena was duly grateful to his constituency. An obstructionist and retired military General Chandrasiri were replaced as Governor by S.G.M.S. Palihakkara, who went with clear instructions to bring relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction to the North. This writer, as the then Chairman of the Resettlement Authority, had a ring side seat to painfully watch the Chief Minister, use the power of his office, to obstruct all efforts to use the provincial administration to serve the people, including delaying World Bank funded projects. He spent a couple of years, fighting fruitlessly with the UNDP to get an Australian national and Diaspora activist appointed as his Advisor / Consultant and used the UNDP’s needs assessment process as his weapon of choice against the UNDP.

In hindsight it might not be unfair, having watched for five years to conclude, that the C.V. Wigneswaran, in full agreement with his hardline political backers in the Diaspora and particularly the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) of Gajen Kumar Ponnambalam, was determined to prove that the provincial council was useless, even as an institution of limited devolved executive authority. As much as Velupillai Prabhakaran believed that using poor Tamil children as cannon fodder was acceptable in the greater goal of Tamil Eelam, Chief Minister Wigneswaran clearly believed that using the most vulnerable Tamil war widows, orphans, the homeless and the maimed as continuous “beggar’s wounds” was fair game or collateral damage in his quest to prove to the Tamil people and the world that the provincial council is useless. Rather like Mahinda Rajapakse before him, he has used ethnic nationalism to disguise, poor governance as well as poor service delivery in the Northern Province.  Sadly, another wasted opportunity for Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans.

It has been however in his public political challenge to the moderation and engagement strategy of the TNA and its leader R. Sambanthan, that Wigneswaran has done the most damage to the cause of post war reconciliation in Sri Lanka in general and the Tamil people in particular. Following the end of the war in 2009, the Tamil people were close to the brink of destruction as a people group. Their middle class was decimated, their brightest and best had been forced to flee abroad and worse probably for reconciliation and integration, completely alienated from the Sri Lankan State. It was into this political post war vacuum that the ITAK led TNA, headed by R. Sambanthan stepped in and adroitly marshalled the Tamil people, to use their electoral muscle to politically engage the Sinhala southern polity and seek to pursue reforms of the Sri Lankan state. Reforms which may not have progressed much, but Rome was not built in a day and the alternate of war did not achieve anything for the Tamil people either. Wigneswaran clearly differed with the engagement strategy. He would solely articulate the grievance but never provide a solution. He should then have either followed the moto of his alma mater, “disce aut discede” and resigned as the TNA‘s CM or engaged with Mr. Sambanthan on the policy in private and in intra-party conclaves and behind closed doors. Not grandstand and seek to pressure in public and thereby politically weaken Mr. Sambanthan and the TNA.  The peddling of despair by the former Chief Minister, who was elected to bring help and hope to the Tamil people, was perhaps the saddest aspect of the many missed opportunities of the now unlamented end of the Wigneswaran Administration in the Northern Province.

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SB Dissanayake and the caretaker Government

Posted by harimpeiris on October 25, 2018

By Harim Peiris

(Published in the Island of 25th October 2018)

 

Hon.SB Dissanayake, currently member of Parliament from the National List, is easily the most active of the political movers and shakers in the SLFP group of sixteen in opposition. He has since resigning from the Government following the failed no confidence motion against the Prime Minster, been fairly active in seeking to make things happen, rather than allow events to run their course. With the term of office of the President ending in January 2020, we should be in full blown presidential election mode, this time next year. Though Parliamentary elections are only due around August 2020, the constitution does allow the President to dissolve Parliament six months before its term is up, so about a month after the presidential election, the winner of that election may dissolve Parliament and actually would be well advised to do so, whoever he or she, may be.

But the SLFP rebel group and reportedly some of the president’s advisors whose thinking is in line with the opposition grouping of the SLFP, are impatient and desire to bring about changes in the government, a lot sooner than the natural end of the Government’s term. However, the political dynamics which drives these processes, the no confidence motion, the attempted caretaker government, whisperings of seeking to defeat the November budget, all require to be examined in the light of independent Sri Lanka’s political history to make any sense of what is going on.

Sri Lanka, like many parts of the democratic world, especially in the Commonwealth countries of former British colonies, have been governed by a basic two-party system where political power is alternated between two major power blocs through period elections. Often after one term and sometimes after two. Our executive presidential system with term limits has also ensured that though a party may continue in office, the executive president and executive authority will change after two terms.

The elections of 2015 were not a major exception to this rule. The Rajapakse Administration seeking an unprecedented third term via provisions of the now defunct 18th Amendment to the Constitution essentially faced a unified and combined rainbow coalition of the then opposition parties, led by the United National Party and fielded a common candidate, who was incidentally from the incumbent president’s own party. This was a smart tactical move and the choice of candidate had a lot to do with a new fresh face, with no political baggage, who could be a unifying factor for the political elites, that all could rally around. Maithripala Sirisena had been seen for a long time in political circles, but not heard very much and certainly had no political enemies or detractors. Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe believes that if he was the NDF candidate, that the election would still have been and this contention is probably correct. However, it would have been impossible, in a couple of weeks to unify a deeply divided opposition around the then Opposition Leader, who while not exactly polarizing was seen as insufficiently electorally exciting and also it would have offered no incentive for even a small breakaway from the SLFP / UPFA. The rest is history.

A major group of the SLFP did not really break away with President Sirisena, the vast majority joined him after his shock win. Political theory would generally lead to the expectation that the breakaways would gravitate back to where they came from. This was certainly the experience of the UNP as well, which had experienced their own breakaway during opposition days in the form of a rebel group under then Minister Karu Jayasuriya who broke away and supported President Rajapakse, supposedly to help prosecute the war and also pass the 18th Amendment, eliminating checks and balances in government, for good measure. However, Karu and some though not all the UNP rebels returned to the fold.

The essential political forces driving the Sri Lanka Freedom Party / UPFA back towards the Rajapakse political vehicle of the Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP) is political. Essentially the election results of 2015, was  52% for the winner and 48% for the unsuccessful candidate and most of the political constituency amounting to 48% which backed Mahinda Rajapakse in 2015 are essentially returning to the fold. This is the political pressure which the SLFP has been feeling for a while and is the driving force, motivating those like Hon.S.B. Dissanayke to be as active as he is, in trying to make that happen. True believers in challenging the Rajapaksa’s and seeking to have a left of center political force in the current ruling alliance, such as Ministers Mahinda Amaraweera and Duminda Dissanayake are few and far between within the SLFP.

The Rajapaksa’s though have a serious problem and this is what gives the SLFP opposition group and some of the president’s advisers hope. Their problem is which Rajapakse is to be the presidential candidate or a dynastic succession issue within a modern democratic dynasty. Sri Lanka’s historic experience of dynastic succession during our pre-colonial monarchies are bloody, brutal and bitter. For Sri Lanka’s sake, the Rajapakses who are intent on staying in the political game, need to get it right. Mahinda is term barred, Gotabaya is a foreign (dual) citizen as is Basil, Namal is too young and Chamal does not want the job, unless he has greatness thrust upon him. It is in this situation that the SLFP rebels and their senior advisors and activists are exploring the possibility of a second term for President Sirisena in alliance with the Rajapaksa’s as the standard bearer of the center left forces with a Rajapakse as Prime Minster, even Mahinda who is not term barred for PM, under the broad umbrella of the UPFA, leaving 2025 open for a Rajapakse return to the apex. It is a long shot, but plausible and possible, even probable. Stranger things have happened in Sri Lanka. Time will tell.

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A Public Presidential chiding to the Attorney General & Police

Posted by harimpeiris on October 1, 2018

By Harim Peiris

(Published in the Island of 20th September 2018)

 

President Sirisena several days ago disclosed to the media that he had strongly chided the Attorney General’s Department and the Police Department, specifically the CID, with regard to investigations relating to serving military officials. This was preceded by a special cabinet meeting in which he reportedly had also expressed the same sentiments. To the extent that the President of the Republic strongly criticizes the law enforcement, prosecutorial and justice departments of the Government, the obvious parallel would be with US President Donald Trump who also uses his now famous Twitter account, to both chide his own Attorney General, former Senator Jeff Sessions, Robert Muller, the Independent Counsel investigating possible Russian interference in the US election process and at various times both the FBI and the CIA.

The reason for the US President to take to social media, especially Twitter, to express his ire at the justice system, is that in the United States, the criminal investigative and prosecutorial processes are strongly independent of the executive branch of the government. They are overseen by the legislature, the US Congress. The system of government in the United States strongly separates the three functions of state governance, the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

This is not the case in Sri Lanka. The Attorney General’s Department in particular, is the chief legal advisor to the state and in practice this has meant to the government of the day.  However, it is also meant to be an independent prosecutorial office, but the ability of the AG’s Department to be both government legal advisor and a regulator or enforcer of adherence to the law by government, has in the past always been suspect. Now clearly, they are more independent of the executive, which is why the Presidential recourse to non-performance, is political pressure through a public chiding.

The 19th Amendment at work

 

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka is the signature achievement of the Sirisena / Wickramasinghe Administration elected in 2015. It was seen as a stepping stone to abolishing the executive presidency, a reversal of the previous Administration’s 18th Amendment and an attempt to strengthen democracy in Sri Lanka through ensuring that we as a nation are governed by laws and institutions and not by populist strongmen occupying the office of executive president.

Accordingly, key appointments are made by the Constitutional Council to a range of Independent Commissions, which administer critical State functions, such as elections and the police, all of which should be independent of the executive. Handing over the management of the careers of police officers, including appointments and promotions from a politicized process to a truly independent Police Commission has eliminated the need for police officers to take orders from politicians to further their own career prospects.  To that extent, the police are free to operate more independently.

Investigating military officers eliminates appearances of impunity

 

A key allegation against the Sri Lankan State and especially its justice system is that human rights violations and state agent violators do so with impunity. Buttressing this argument is that we have a paucity of cases in which Sri Lanka has prosecuted rights offenders and an even lesser number of convictions in that regard. It is therefore a salutary aspect of Sri Lanka’s democracy and a credit to the robustness of our institutions, if no one is deemed above the law, whether from the political, military, or civil service establishments. Also, due process and protection of the rights of suspects should not be a special privilege conferred on suspect military officers alone. It should be extended to all citizens. It is a cardinal principle of natural justice that everyone is treated equally before the law. Due consideration can and should be given to the rights of suspects including their presumption of innocence. Kishali Pinto Jayawardena in her popular most recent legal column states “In sum ensuring that fairness ensures to all citizens in equal measure in criminal investigation and detention procedures is the basic duty of the state”.

The laws delay

 

The substantive issue that drew presidential ire, was not per se that military officers are being investigated but that such investigations have not resulted in charges being laid, thereby leaving room for the allegation that the arrests and detentions are a witch hunt with extraneous reasons or mala fide. The frustrations expressed by President Sirisena at the lack of prosecutions or the filing of indictments (criminal charges) against corruption and human rights violation suspects is a frustration felt by a large segment of those who voted and supported the “Yahapalana” mandate for change of 2015. So even at this late stage, some progress on prosecutions would serve the cause of justice in Sri Lanka.

The long periods taken to investigate cases, must be viewed in the context of the protracted legal process in Sri Lanka, where the average case takes ten to fifteen years to conclude. The Bar Association which is busy opposing free trade agreements, may be better advised to focus on some legal reforms which can ensure a speedier delivery of justice. As the old popular adage goes, justice delayed is justice denied.

The extended period of holding suspects in remand custody should also be considered in the context of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), due to be repealed and replaced by the new Counter Terrorism Act (CTA). As Attorney at Law Senaka Perera, President of the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners (CPRP) has claimed that there are one hundred and seven detainees under the PTA against whom charges have not been filed and many have been in remand for over nine or ten years. Hence the severe limitation on the period of detention orders in the new CTA. In summation, it may be fair to state, that Sri Lanka requires many reforms to ensure that society receives more effective judicial remedies.

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Reflections on July’83 – Thirty-five years on / Never again

Posted by harimpeiris on July 30, 2018

By Harim Peiris

(Published on Groundviews and Daily News on 26th July 2018)

 

23rd July marked the 35th anniversary of one of post independent Sri Lanka’s darkest chapters, the July 1983 pogrom against Tamil civilians throughout the country. Which was sparked by an ambush of an Army patrol in Jaffna, by the LTTE, then one of several militant groups operating in the North, in which the entire platoon of thirteen soldiers was wiped out. A couple of days later, as the bodies of many of the soldiers were brought to the Borella cemetery in Colombo for burial with full military honors, anti-Tamil pogrom commenced and occurred. Several thousand Tamil people were murdered through out Sri Lanka and many more displaced and disposed. Thirty-five years later and ten years after the war which it sparked has ended, we can look back now at this shameful chapter in Sri Lanka’s history and learn some lessons for our slowly progressing post war reconciliation process.

Current and prior responses

 

Thirty-five years after the fact, the response of the Sri Lankan State to July ’83 has been more thoughtful and meaningful. Prime Minister Wickramasinghe and Finance Minister Samaraweera were in Jaffna on the occasion and engaged in a series of measures including the launch of Enterprise Sri Lanka in the North, laying out a vision for a future of hope, engaging with the people and very importantly for women’s issues, cancelling micro credit loans up to Rs.100,000 mostly for the single women headed households, among other measures. Prior to that in July 2004, President Kumaratunga had issued a national apology for the July ’83 riots as an interim reconciliation measure and appointed a special commission to pay compensation to victims who lodged claims with the Commission.

The initial response however by the Sri Lankan State and the political establishment in 1983 was a disaster and weakened democratic and pluralist Sri Lanka and strengthened extremism. The direct beneficiary of which was the LTTE in the North and the JVP in the South, which launched its own second insurrection several years later in 1988.

Basically, the Sri Lankan State failed to protect her Tamil citizens from gross violence and accordingly demonstrated a significant state failure in that most fundamental of state responsibilities, the protection of life (of persons) and properties. The name of a well-known then Cabinet Minister was often mentioned as an instigator, organizer and patron of the anti-Tamil violence, which as is often the case with political violence is not spontaneous but organized. President J.R. Jayawardena was silent for several days as Sri Lanka burned and only emerged to express his empathy with the just outrage of the majority community, thereby transforming the discourse on Tamil militancy, as an attack on a pluralist Sri Lanka to a Sinhala verses Tamil conflict. Sri Lanka burned for nearly twenty-five years thereafter and now a decade after the end of the war, there are lessons to be learnt from those failures of July 1983.

Delegitimizes democratic Tamil politics

 

The anti-Tamil riots of 1983 were not without consequences. The Tamil militancy movement which was still very much on the fringes of Tamil politics was vastly strengthened as the democratic Tamil political leadership lost legitimacy in the light of their inability to get the Sri Lankan State machinery to ensure basic physical and economic security of the Tamil people. Further the Sri Lankan State lost legitimacy in the eyes of the Tamil community, as articulated best by former TULF Member of Parliament late Neelan Tiruchelvam, who described it as “the anomaly of imposing a mono ethnic state on a multi ethnic polity”. The Sri Lankan State, began to be increasingly seen and perhaps also acting, as a Sinhala State, rather than a pluralistic, multi ethnic and inclusive state.

With the escalation of the armed conflict following July ’83, any accountability for the gross violations of human rights which occurred, including that most basic right to life, was never ensured by the State, until perhaps President Kumaratunga’s Commission twenty-one years later. However, the low-key nature and relative lack of publicity given to the initiative, due to nay Sayers even within her own Cabinet meant that many victims as well as the general public were generally unaware of the same.

Learn the lesson with regard the Muslim Community

 

It is to the credit of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans that July 1983 was never repeated though the LTTE escalated violence thereafter. However, the mentality, the politics and rhetoric which enabled and created July’83 has sadly not entirely left our public discourse. When the LTTE attacked the army, the counter measures should have been solely a state response against the perpetrators and not rampaging mobs against innocents. To our collective shame, an entire ethnic minority countrywide were targeted, innocent men, women and children.

Worryingly the same rhetoric is emanating from the self-proclaimed saviors of the Sinhala people today, in relation to the Muslim community. We and democratic Sri Lanka need to be protected from these protectors. As the most venerable Maha Nayaka Thero of the Malwatta Chapter observed after the anti-Muslim violence in Kandy. There are no need for “Balsenas and Balakayas” when we have a democratic state and security structures. Which has at least to date, never failed the majority community, unlike the Tamils in 1983.  In the post war decade since 2009, imaginary and perceived threats from the Muslim community are being bandied about to instigate mini pogroms from Dhurga Town Beruwela, to Ampara and Digana Kandy.

Today the names of terrorist groups like ISIS, are household names and claim to wage their war on Islamic principles and for Muslim objectives. However, we cannot concede to a self-appointed violent few, the mantle and leadership of the whole. ISIS never represents Muslims, while 969 in Myanmar cannot be considered as representing the Bama people of Myanmar nor indeed did the LTTE during the war years, legitimize its self-appointed claim to represent the Tamil people and most interestingly the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) which contested the 2015 general elections basically lost their deposits with a few hundred votes per electoral division in the Sinhala constituencies. Perhaps the most enduring lesson of July ’83 should be “never again” and violent extremism should always be challenged and not allowed to flourish.

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Garrison against Gota

Posted by harimpeiris on June 20, 2018

By Harim Peiris

(Published in the Daily News of 18th June 2018)

 

The press has been full of reports that outgoing US Ambassador Atul Keshap has cautioned and advised former President Mahinda Rajapakse that the nomination of his brother and US citizen Gotabaya Rajapakse as candidate for president in 2020, faces a variety of legal and other obstacles, based on the sum total of which, the United States would not consider the same favorably. The fact that this information was first put out and confirmed by the former president’s office, indicated that the Rajapakse media team initially at least believed that, being seen unfavorably by the West, is an electoral gain. This is in line with the messaging of the unsuccessful Rajapakse campaign in 2015, which strained to cast that election as a Rajapakse verses the West, a Sri Lanka verses Geneva election. Though in actuality, the 2015 election turned out to be Rajapakse verses the rest of the political parties and the result is history.

US citizenship provides jurisdiction

 

Skimming through social media reactions to Ambassador Keshap’s observations, a small section of social media users has rather predictably called on the US to mind their own business, that Sri Lankan politics is the sole preserve of Sri Lankans. This does hold true, but only with the confines of and the context of the fact that, no nation lives in isolation by itself, but within the community of nations which imposes certain norms, treaty obligations and an ever-increasing body of international law commitments on nation states. The majority of social media users through are aware of the legal implications and rights of national jurisdiction over citizens.

The real, legal right which the US Ambassador excised over Mr. Gotabaya Rajapakse, was and is his jurisdiction over him as a naturalized US citizen. Being a citizen of a country places certain legal obligations on the citizen and more importantly provides the State with jurisdiction over its citizens. US law particularly exercises extra-territorial jurisdiction over its citizens, namely that their actions in overseas territories still make them liable to the US under its own laws.  Further US law does not permit its citizens to hold political office in foreign governments. An official position like a ministry secretary is allowed, a political office is not. A US green-card holder who is merely a permanent resident, may do so but not a citizen. Gotabaya Rajapakse is a dual, US citizen and also a Sri Lankan citizen, thereby being subject to the concurrent dual jurisdiction of both countries.

Ambassador Keshap reportedly made the observation that the skill set required to lead a military and security establishment, where orders are followed without question are not the skills required for managing democratic diversity in a pluralistic society. There have been claims by some JO stalwarts that US citizenship can be renounced at any time. But US citizenship is not like a job, which you simply resign by sending in a letter. Renouncing US citizenship requires that you leave with a clean slate. US law does not permit its citizens to get out of potential legal jeopardy by simply renouncing citizenship to remove US jurisdiction. In that instance, the US refuses to grant such a release. Accordingly, the various allegations against Mr. Rajapakse, including in the US, regarding especially human rights violations would need to be resolved before US citizenship is cancelled.

The 19th Amendment, foreign MPs, judges and presidents

 

The political landscape post the 19th Amendment to the Constitution is somewhat different to the period of the two terms in office. One feature of the 19th Amendment is the specific stricture and prohibition on foreign citizens being members of Parliament. One MP, lost her seat as well through the courts for being a foreign citizen. While the 19th Amendment is silent on the specific issue of a foreign national or a dual citizen being head of state, head of government and commander in chief of the armed forces, the laws of natural justice, the original intent of the framers of the constitution and common law if not common sense would create a fairly convincing constitutional fundamental rights case that a foreign dual citizen is ineligible to be Sri Lanka’s president under our constitution. After all our basic response to even the Geneva UNHRC resolution for foreign and Commonwealth judges, despite the tradition of Commonwealth commonality of a call to the Bar and the legal profession, is that foreigners cannot be allowed to preside over Sri Lankan judicial processes. It would be weird if they can preside over our state and government. It stands to reason then, that we cannot allow a foreign or dual national to be president.

The precedent of 2010

 

Political observers would recall how on the polling day of the 2010 presidential election, Wimal Weerawansa, then a rather vociferous minster in the Rajapakse Government, went on national television while polling was going on, to claim that a vote for then opposition presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka, a US permeant resident or green card holder, would be null and void because he is ineligible to be president and a vote for him would be a wasted vote. The broadcast was only stopped when the Election Commissioner intervened following protests by General Fonseka’s campaign and the UNP. However, Wimal Weerawansa whose mono lingual eloquence of speech, has never been in doubt, makes a compelling argument that a foreign citizen (he actually argues even a resident, who is merely a long-term visa holder of sorts) could not and should not be elected the head of state, head of government and commander in chief of the armed forces of Sri Lanka. No doubt Weerawansa’s verbal heroics in 2010, may well come back to haunt the JO  and the Rajapaksa’s in the run up to the 2020 elections.

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