A Week Of Chaos!
It has been a week of political upheaval like never before. President Maithripala Sirisena chose to appoint his arch enemy Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister while UNP leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe was out of Colombo. He also prorogued Parliament until Nov. 16. The Opposition and civil society activists have condemned his action as undemocratic. Both parties are now busy trying to lure Members of Parliament to their sides.
The surprise move has angered many and plunged the country into political uncertainty. While the UNP is working round the clock to prevent the government from consolidating its position, the Rajapaksa camp is busy engineering crossovers. A lot of money is said to be changing hands.
Arjuna Ranatunga, former Minister for Petroleum, was granted bail following the death of a Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) worker who was among some protesters blamed for trying to force themselves into a room, occupied by Ranatunga. One of Ranatunga’s security guards was remanded for allegedly opening fire on the protesters. CPC workers resorted to trade union, demanding Ranatunga’s arrest. The country experienced a temporary fuel shortage.
While some insist President Sirisena’s move is unconstitutional, others disagree or refuse to be dragged into the fray. The Attorney General responded to the Speaker’s request for an interpretation, stating that ‘having regard to the role of the Attorney General under the Constitution, I am of the view that expressing an opinion on the said questions would be deemed inappropriate.”
On Tuesday, UNP supporters descended on Colombo in droves and marched to Temple Trees, in support of their party and leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. That same day civil society activists gathered at the Liberty Plaza roundabout to pressure the President to reconvene parliament. An on-line petition with nearly 20,000 signatures calling for reconvening Parliament immediately was handed over to the Speaker, Karu Jayasuriya, who met the President on Thursday in a bid to reopen Parliament.
Supporters of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna converged on Nugegoda on Thursday calling for the restoration of democracy and reconvening parliament immediately.
As always when the main parties fight for survival, those representing minority groups stand to gain; they get attractive offers from the rival groups hoping to increase their numbers in Parliament.
Political parties are playing the numbers game and President Sirisena and the Rajapaksa faction are making a frantic effort to muster a working majority in Parliament.