Sri Lanka political crisis: Parliament Speaker asks public servants not to execute President’s orders

Sri Lanka political crisis: Parliament Speaker asks public servants not to execute President’s orders

News:

  1. Sri Lanka’s president Maithripala Sirisena has dissolved Parliament and called for elections on Jan. 5 in a bid to stave off a deepening political crisis over his dismissal of the prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe that opponents say is unconstitutional.

Important Facts:

  1. Background:
  • Sirisena triggered an unprecedented constitutional crisis on October 26 when he sacked Mr. Wickremesinghe and replaced him with former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.
  • Wickremesinghe insisted his dismissal was illegal and unconstitutional and refused to vacate the official residence of the premier.
  • Sirisena agreed thrice to reconvene parliament which he had suspended shortly after sacking Mr. Wickremesinghe to prevent him proving his majority on the floor of the House.
  • But just five days before Parliament was due to reconvene, Mr. Sirisena dissolved it and called snap elections for January 5.
  1. Immediate causes:
  • Tensions had been building between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, as the president did not approve of economic reforms introduced by the prime minister.
  • Sirisena was critical of investigations into military personnel accused of human rights violations during Sri Lanka’s long civil war against a Tamil separatist group, which ended in 2009.
  1. According to constitution, Parliament can’t be dissolved until 4 1/2 years after its election. The current Parliament was elected in August 2015.
  2. Moreover the Speaker of Sri Lanka’s Parliament said that he recognises Wickremesinghe as the country’s lawful prime minister, until another candidate can prove a majority in parliament.
  3. He has also accused President Sirisena of “usurping” the rights of legislators and asked public servants not to carry out his “illegal orders”.
  4. Significance:
  • This political crisis is threatening democracy and the rule of law in that South Asian country.
  1. India’s Case:
  • India would be “doubly cautious” in dealing with any political situation in Sri Lanka given its own history of military intervention in Sri Lanka e. sending Indian peace keeping troops but itself sucked into the civil war, with its soldiers getting killed.
  • In the present crisis, there was no question of Sri Lankan Tamils getting affected so India’s resorting to a hands off approach would be the most prudent.
  • Moreover, meddling in the crisis would give rise to anti-India sentiments which would in turn give China an advantage to increase its footprint in and around India’s periphery with loans and infrastructure projects.
  1. Way Forward:
  • Since the President has prevented Parliament from ruling on the legitimacy of the President’s actions, it will be up to the Supreme Court to determine the legality of these actions.
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