[JVP has extensive mobilisation capacity]
“Mahinda cannot a third time – No illegal presidential elections!”
News have been published that incumbent president Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, before his second term concludes and immediately after he completes four years of his term, is preparing to go for a presidential election. It is evident that this presidential election is against the constitution which is the fundamental law in our country and violates its clauses. As such, we believe all people in this country should know the important facts regarding for what purpose is the sudden presidential election is to be held, could it be held legally, what would be the outcome of an illegal presidential election and how could it be avoided.
For whom is the sudden presidential election?
As President Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected for a second term at the presidential election held in January, 2010 and was sworn in November 2010 he could be in power for 6 years; that is until November, 2016. Why is the sudden presidential election called if he has time till 2016? It is to get power for 6 more years before the people’s opposition that is developing daily against him and his government aggravates further. As such, this sudden presidential election is not in the interest of the country or the people but is held for the greediness for power of one individual and is held due to panic that his power would be lost. The move spending billions of public money and ignoring opposition of certain quarters of the UPFA is to further establish the despotic family rule. It would undoubtedly be a massive future hazard for the country as well as for its people.
Is ‘18’ ethical?
The incumbent president is preparing to hold a sudden presidential election for his third term according to the 18th amendment adopted in September, 2010. However, this amendment to the constitution is not ethical. Despite the President asking for a 2/3rd majority for the UPFA at the general election held in March, 2010 – after the presidential election held on January, 2010, people did not give him a 2/3rd majority. As such, the UPFA government does not have a 2/3rd majority given by a people’s mandate. However, the 2/3rd majority was manipulated by getting, through bribes and presenting other privileges, MPs elected with votes against the government. As it is not a 2/3rd representing the standpoint of the people the 18th amendment is unethical.
Why Mahinda cannot contest for a third term?
Despite President Mahinda Rajapaksa is preparing to hold a sudden presidential election under the 18th amendment adopted unethically, he cannot go for a third term according to the present constitution even under the 18th amendment and also he cannot call for a presidential election without completing 6 years of his second term.
Legal experts in Sri Lanka have quoted two strong legal arguments regarding this. They are:
01. Clause 31 (2) of the constitution Mr. JR Jayewardene got adopted in 1978 states ‘No person who has been twice elected to the office of President by the People shall be qualified thereafter to be elected to such office by people.’
Also 92 (c) of the Constitution states that a person ‘twice elected to the office of President’ is not qualified to be elected to the office of President.
As such, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa was disqualified to contest a presidential election as soon as he was elected as President at the presidential election held on 26th January, 2010. Despite the two clauses were removed in an amendment after two months on 9th September, 2010, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaks had already got himself disqualified to contest a third time. According to interpretation ordinance act in Sri Lanka the removal of a law could be implemented to the present or the future but not to the past. Hence, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa is not qualified to contest the presidential election or get elected to the office of President from January that year despite the 18th amendment was adopted. As such, he cannot constitutionally contest the presidential election.
02. The other reason is Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa cannot call for a presidential election until his second term of 6 years is completed.
The third amendment brought in by Mr. JR Jayawardene to the constitution amended the 31st clause. It states a person elected for the second term should “hold office for a term of six years commencing on such date in the year in which that election is held.”
Amendment states ‘the President may, at any time after the expiration of four years from the commencement of his first term of office, by Proclamation, declare his intention of appealing to the People for a mandate to hold office, by election, for a further term.’ According to this the President can call for a presidential election after 4 years only during his 1st term.
In the 18th amendment brought in 2010 the words ‘first term’ was removed and was replaced by ‘current term’.
However, according to article ‘D’ of this amendment the President in office should hold office for a term of six years commencing on such date in the year in which that election is held before he calls for a presidential election.
This clause has not been amended by the 18th amendment. As such, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa cannot call for a presidential election after four years of his second term. He can call a presidential election only after six years. Mr. Rajapaska was sworn in for his second term in November, 2010 and he would have to call a presidential election after November, 2016. He has no constitutional right to call a presidential election before that.
Illegality of the sudden presidential election:
It is evident that Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa has no legal provision to hold the post of President or call for a presidential election even through the 18th amendment that was adopted in a hurry for petty intentions and hunger for power. If a presidential election is held before the second term of Mr. Rajapaksa is concluded such a presidential election would be illegal and as Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa cannot contest a presidential election hereafter and as he is disqualified to do so, his coming forward for such an election too is illegal.
Why is the Constitution violated?
In such an environment if the incumbent President, without considering the Constitution, calls for a sudden presidential election to get elected again would be very harmful. If this becomes a precedent it would be dangerous. The President is getting prepared not to solve the issues of the people or the country but to risk the people and the country to extend his power. Such a power would definitely be anti-democratic. It would be a despotic family rule. It would definitely be harmful for the future and it should be defeated.
The President, instead of facing this legal argument is getting his henchmen to ask ‘Why are you so afraid of Mahinda? If the ruler of the country is violating the Constitution to extend his power people who cherish democracy should fear him. People should fear when they see creation of dictators who do not care for the Constitution and laws of the country. They should not be silent but come forward to defeat this danger.
If Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, arbitrarily, without considering the objections from several parties of the UPFA, ignoring the question by the Secretary General of the SLFP for the need for a sudden presidential election, casting aside legal arguments of legal experts but on behalf of his hunger and greediness for power declares a sudden presidential election, it should be defeated. It need not be allowed.
The attempt of the President, blatantly violating the Constitution, the fundamental law of the country to go on a dictatorial path should be defeated. As such, what should be done is not to silently accept the unconstitutional and illegal attempt of the President and contribute to it but to vehemently oppose it and defeat it. It should be challenged and defeated.
For this the people should be made aware and a public opinion against it should be created. While creating a public opinion and a people’s power the vile act should be legally challenged in courts.
If the President is unconcerned and acts according to his agenda masses should be rallied to defeat him.
The task of the JVP at the moment is to rally the people against this illegal act. Hence, we call upon all masses to come forward to defeat the attempt to hold an illegal sudden presidential election.
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna