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Friday 5 December 2014

Memorandum of understanding

The memorandum of understanding has been signed between the UNP and some insignificant parties and individuals who are supposed to be members of insignificant organizations, in front of Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera whose organization consisting of academic trade unionists and left out leftists who are in search of a platform to mark their presence to the people through  media politics. If not for media politics nobody would have heard of these organizations. MoU is nothing but a document that declares that a UNP government would be formed with the assistance of Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera and Chandrika Kumaratunga who do not have a mass base at present. It is not known whether Maithripala Sirisena signed as an individual or as the so called secretary of the SLFP. Incidentally according to John Amaratunga the MoU was signed at Victoria Park revealing his colonial way of thinking long after the park was named Viharamahadevi Park. Perhaps John Amaratunga does not recognize Viharamahadevi and her son who were able to unify the country more than two thousand years ago. John Amaratunga is the Chief Opposition of whip of the present parliament whom the UNP would appoint as the Chief government whip if and when Ranil Wickremesinghe becomes the Prime Minister after the 8th of January 2015.  

As far as the UNP, its lawyers are concerned Sarath Silva is still the chief justice of the country while Mohan Peiris is the de facto CJ. Similarly they must be thinking that Maithripala Sirisena is the secretary of the SLFP while Anura Priyadarshana Yapa is the de facto secretary  of the party. However, unfortunately for the UNP, the agent of the western powers in the country, the removals and appointments have been made according to the constitution of the SLFP. Thus Maithripala Sirisena does not represent the SLFP or even the faction (one or two former SLFPers) that went with him to the opposition. Chandrika Kumaratunga similarly does not represent the SLFP. She and Maithripala Sirisena failed to bring the thirty MPs from the SLFP thus giving their first “broken province” to Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The TNA, JVP and JHU have not signed the MoU thus indicating that there is no common opposition though there may be a so called common candidate. Maithripala Sirisena does not represent a common opposition and as it is he represents at least four oppositions most probably with four programmes. The MoU that has been signed is also not very clear as far as the positions of Chandrika Kumaratunga and the UNP are concerned. The JHU and the TNA will sign pacts or MoU s with Maithripala Sirisena who does not represent a mass base as a member of a party. The JHU are the TNA are trying to deceive the people but finally together with Chandrika they will all agree with the UNP on the programme that will be finally adopted. It is because the UNP is the only party among the groupings that have some mass base though less than 40% of the vote and also due to the fact it gets the blessings of the western powers.

It would be interesting to find out the contents of the MoUs that Maithripala Sirisena would sign with the JHU and the TNA separately though it would be only an academic exercise. What would be carried out is the programme of the west through the UNP and Maithripala Sirisena whatever the leaders of these parties and Chandrika Kumaratunga may be dreaming of.  

Contrary to what Nimal Siripala de Silva has to say the article 37(1), gives the power to the executive president to appoint the prime minister to perform the duties of the President. Also the president can appoint any person whom in his opinion is most likely to command the confidence of the Parliament. The relevant articles are reproduced below.  

43. (3) The President shall appoint as Prime Minster the Member of Parliament who in his opinions is most likely to command the confidence of Parliament.

37. (1) If the President is of the opinion that by reason of illness, absence from Sri Lanka or any other cause he will be unable to exercise, perform and discharge the powers, duties and functions of his office he may appoint the Prime Minister to exercise, perform and discharge the powers, duties and functions of the office of President during such period, and may also appoint one of the other Ministers of the Cabinet to act in the office of Prime Minister during such period:
Provided that if the office of Prime Minister be then vacant or the Prime Minister is unable to act, the President may appoint the Speaker to exercise, perform and discharge the powers, duties and functions of the office of President during such period.

Under 43 (3) it is not necessary to have a vote in the parliament to elect a prime minister and according to 37(1) the president if the president is unable to function in the post of president for some reason which is not specified he can appoint the prime minister to perform the duties of the President. It is clear that the understanding according to the MoU and probably the other MoUs to be signed to have the present Parliament for two more years until the constitution is amended and to have Parliamentary elections with the amended constitution under a different voting system. However it is clear that for two years nothing will happen to the executive powers of the president though they will be carried out by the prime minister appointed for the purpose.

The plan is clear. If and when Maithripala Sirisena wins he will appoint Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime minster without consulting the Parliament under 43(3) as the former could say in his opinion the latter commands the confidence of the opposition. Having appointed Ranil Wickremesinghe to carry out the duties of the president (some who are not clear in conceptual thinking may call him the executive prime minster though there is no such position defined in the constitution) Maithripala Sirisena will declare that for some reason he is unable to exercise, perform and discharge the powers, duties and functions of his office and appoint the new prime minster Ranil Wickremesinghe to to exercise, perform and discharge the powers, duties and functions of the post of President. Then Ranil Wickremesinghe will carry out the programme of the west. The UNP which under instructions from the west wanted to curtail the public srrvice and sacked thousands of government employees in July 1980 when they wanted a salary increase of Rs. 300 per month will never increase the salaries of the latter.

The good governance and the rest are mere rhetoric as there is no good governance in the UNP itself. Democracy or whatever should start at home, and by now Tissa Attanayake could have given Maithripala Sirisena some lessons on good governance in the UNP. The MoU talks of law and order and are they going to say that under the UNP and the SLFP of Chandrika Kumaratunga they had law and order in the country. It is not necessary to give the long list of examples for bad governance in their regimes, if I may use the term very much liked by Ranil Wickremesinghe and Maithripala Sirisena would be the nominal executive president of a regime that has Ranil Wickremesinghe functioning as the President. The west may be thinking of buying some SLFP MPs to obtain the two third majority in the parliament but they are only day dreaming.

Chandrika Kumaratunga claims that she could not obtain the two third majority during the time she was the President to abolish executive presidency. If it is true it implies that the UNP was not in favour of abolishing the executive presidency from 1994 to 2005. During this period there was a time from 2002 to 2004 when Chandrika Kumaratunga and Ranil Wickremesinghe governed the country jointly without attempting to amend the constitution and abolish the executive presidency. Instead they jointly signed ceasefire agreement with Prabhakaran contrary to the wish of the great majority of the people. Chandrika cannot claim that she was no party to the ceasefire agreement as it was signed by Ranil Wickremesinghe and not by her. However under the constitution only the president can declare war or peace and Ranil Wickremesinghe who had not been given powers under 37(1) did not have the authority to sign a ceasefire agreement with Prabhalaran. However, Chandrika Kumaratunga who as the president could have annulled the agreement did not do so as it was against the wish of the west communicated through Norway. That was the understanding between Chandrika Kumaratunga and Ranil Wickremesinghe and the present MoU is about the same understanding that would help Tamil separatism through TNA and the dispersed Tamils in the west. 

Nalin De Silva