Can he or can he not?

MahindaToHitler_LnWBe it amorous trysts that become public fodder or muddying placid waters with a few well aimed buckshots, former Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva has never not been controversial in his actions nor provocative in his comments. And true to form he has now lit a fuse under what everybody took as a given, by claiming that Mahinda Rajapaksa, the incumbent President who is continuing in his second term cannot, despite the passage of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which incidentally rescinded the term limitations of the Executive President, and which incidentally was passed with a two thirds majority in Parliament, contest a third term. Silva’s arguments are cogent and are further buttressed by the reputation he enjoys as one of the foremost luminaries of Constitutional Law, if not the best.
The former Chief Justice’s assertion that he would personally petition the Supreme Court, in the event the incumbent President chooses to contest the third time, adds flavour to the otherwise dull and dreary dynamics of the Supreme Court. Why he waited this long to lob the explosive bombshell one does not really know, but he could not have chosen a better backdrop of socio-political circumstances to make the lob.

In another corner of the island, preparations are in high, even volatile gear, for provincial polls where Shasheendra Rajapaksa, the President’s nephew and Speaker’s son, is contesting as the Chief Ministerial candidate from the government coalition United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). However, the degree of violence and elections law violations in Uva, most of them allegedly instigated by the ruling coalition, indicate things are not looking all that rosy for the government and the anticipated, even boasted, clean sweep may end up being more than a tough fight.
Silva’s legal arguments on top of this growing uncertainty which is appended to a cruel drought that has spread across the Moneragala District, have all combined to muddy the politics. And there is no gainsaying the concerns in the government hierarchy that the arguments of the former Chief Justice might have a negative affect on the way the Uva voter reacts to it and the on-going propaganda.

The government’s sensibilities are no doubt stirred and its base is no doubt being questioned. What Silva is enunciating is the stupid stupidity of the government advisers who were instrumental in drafting the contentious 18th Amendment for failing to insert certain words and legal phrases that could have easily ensured the legitimacy of the present President contesting for a third time. It is indeed a very serious indictment on the veracity and brainpowers of an administration which, under any circumstances, is reputed to be incompetent in many a field of socio-economic administration of the country.
A fait accomplice has now become a topic of heated discussion in educated quarters. How the international community treats this new political dynamic is another issue altogether. All the legal brains behind the powers that be, must be working overtime these days, for even a shade of doubt could harm the voters’ preferences. In such an environment of ambiguity the cry for the abrogation of the Executive Presidency would definitely gather more momentum.

It was amidst these inauspicious developments that the Media Minster, at his weekly media briefing, confirmed that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has sought legal advice on contesting for a third term. And wheels have certainly begun to turn. It is not only the incumbent that the former Chief Justice has managed to put in great discomfort, by declaring that the Supreme Court is not a creation of the President but an institution than has a long and illustrious history of 212 years, he has also thrown serious thoughts in the process in which the country’s Supreme Court would react and adjudicate on this very issue.

Sarath Nanda Silva, certainly has made people think again. Most political pundits are of the view that when people start thinking the advantage is for the challenger. The government might try all its political gimmickry to scuttle this controversy before it can take a grip on anything solid. But can it succeed in making people forget the former Chief Justice’s arguments? In that ambivalent context, the Uva election results do matter and it matters a lot.

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