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Sri Lankan Prime Minister Should Now Exhibit Statesmanship


by N.S. Venkataraman   





With the reinstatement of
Ranil  Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister
of Sri Lanka, many political observers around the world  think that democratic practices in Sri Lanka
has emerged triumphant.





Earlier, when President
Maithripala Srisena sacked Ranil  Wickremesinghe
from the position of Prime Minister on 26th October, with least forethought and
inadequate forward planning and with considerable contempt for public opinion,
the judiciary in Sri Lanka asserted itself and nullified the decision of
President Sirisena. Of course, 
Wickremesinghe  refused to step
down, asserting that his sacking was illegal, though he ceased to be the Prime
Minister for all practical purposes.





While President Sirisena sacked
Wickremesinghe, he installed the ex strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa  in his place.   He did this to the surprise and shock of
everyone as Sirisena served under Rajapaksa earlier, then opposed him,
contested against him, defeated him in the election and teamed up with
Wickremesinghe to form the government. Such action of Sirisena  clearly made everyone suspect about his
credibility and he was widely  perceived
as un principled politician and lacking in consistency in principles and
approach.





When Supreme court of Sri Lanka
nullified Sirisena’s decision and he was forced to reinstate Wickremesinghe,
Sirisena was smiling with Wickremesinghe, 
as if he has done no mistake . Though Sirisena defended his action of
sacking Wickremesinghe  earlier, claiming
that it was done in “good faith” , no one was convinced.





With slap on the face inflicted
on him by the Supreme Court, Sirisena would have improved his image if he had
submitted his resignation but he has not cared to do so.





Not anymore known for taking
principled stand ,  President Sirisena is
likely to behave like a “wounded tiger” in the coming days in dealing with
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.  In an
attempt to prove that his earlier decision to sack Prime Minister
Wickremesinghe was correct, President Sirisena is likely to create hurdles in
the path of Prime minister Wickremesinghe and provoking him at every
opportunity. Certainly, he is unlikely to cooperate with the Prime Minister and
work in cordial and creative atmosphere.





It is extremely important that
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe  should not
over react to such hurdles created in his way and get into controversies.  He has to necessarily exhibit quality of
statesmanship and dignity that should be associated with the position of Prime
Minister. It remains to be seen as to whether Wickremesinghe would measure up to
such demands.





The recent c constitutional
crisis created by President  Sirisena,
for whatever reasons, also point to the need to re examine the provisions in
the constitution to prevent recurrence of such crisis again in future.





Democracies in commonwealth countries have largely been framed on the basis of prevailing system in UnitedKingdom. However, in UK, the King or the Queen is appointed on the basis of traditional hereditary pattern, which is not so in the case of democracies in Asia. In United Kingdom, such constitutional crisis of sacking the Prime Minister by the King or the Queen has never happened in recent memory.





In the case of democracies in
commonwealth countries, the President is elected.  In India too, it is not uncommon for the
state governments (provincial governments) to be dismissed by the President of
India based on the recommendations of the central government. However, the
central government has never been dismissed by the President of India.  In the case of Sri Lanka , President Sirisena
has now set up an unhealthy precedent by 
dismissing the Prime Minister.





The recent crisis in Sri Lanka
certainly calls for re examining the constitutional provisions about the powers
of the President. While President Sirisena may not take the initiative to order
such constitutional review , Prime Minister Wickremesinghe may examine the
feasibility of doing so.


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