With the steady rise of COVID-19 patients in Sri Lanka, opposition political parties and alliances are calling on the President to re-summon parliament and jointly combat the spread of the disease.
Releasing a joint a statement today, April 27th, the parties are urging the President to ‘respond positively’ to their offer of responsible cooperation and ‘revoke the proclamation dated 2nd March 2020 dissolving Parliament so that all of us can jointly fight to eradicate this virus, and also ensure that everything is done lawfully and in compliance with the Constitution.’
Signed by leaders of seven parties and alliances the statement issued in all three languages, says that they genuinely believe that re-summoning parliament and securing the cooperation of the parliamentarians of the dissolved parliament would be beneficial in resolving the many governance issues that have emerged during this crisis. ‘Getting appropriate and new legislation passed in order to meet the public health crisis and obtaining parliamentary sanction to the utilization of monies from the Consolidated Fund are some such important and urgent functions of Parliament’, the statement adds.
The optimism, says the statement, until a few days ago that the country had a handle on the situation is now receding and if not addressed decisively, would result in the public health crisis being compounded by similar situations in the economic, social and political spheres as well.
The best efforts of frontline workers in fighting the spread of the virus should not go to waste owing to political decisions, they state pointing out that ‘several hundreds have been infected; several thousands have lost livelihoods.’
There is some uncertainty in the political situation owing to the dissolution of parliament and the current conditions are not conducive to conducting the parliamentary poll as stipulated the statement adds, adding that there is no assurance now that elections could be held on June 20 and that the Election Commission has stated that holding the poll would depend on the evolving public health situation.
Therefore, the opposition politicians state that while they believe the possibility of conducting a free and fair election in the next two months is remote, they are also concerned about exposing the public to a public health hazard in pursuit of an election.
For the Rule of Law to prevail in any democracy, says the statement, the vital organs of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary must be active. “Their functioning is more important now than at any other time – when we face an unprecedented challenge. But this crisis is taking place at a time when Parliament has been made inactive. Meanwhile, the President has also refrained from exercising the discretion to summon Parliament under Article 70 (7) of the Constitution. In view of the necessity to repeatedly postpone the Election, there is now a risk that Parliament would remain inactive for much longer.”
Given that the COVID-19 crisis shows no signs of ending soon resulting in the country facing an extraordinary challenge in combating it, the statement adds that the situation calls for all politicians and political parties to transcend partisan agendas and “working together for the common good of the people and the country amidst an unprecedented crisis.”
While assuring the people of the country that they will not draw a salary or attempt to defeat the government or thwart any of the legitimate actions of the government, they point out that ‘Our good faith has already been demonstrated by the fact that we have cooperated fully with the government in maintaining the “curfew”, although the same has not been imposed legally. ‘
The statement has been signed by Samagi Balawegaya leader Sajith Premadasa, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, TNA leader R Sambanthan, Hela Urumaya leader Patali Champika Ranawaka, Tamil Progressive Alliance leader Mano Ganesan, All Ceylon Makkal Congress leader Rishad Bathiudeen and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauf Hakeem.
Read the full statement here:Joint Statement Final