As former President Mahinda Rajapaksa ignominiously retreated following the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal delivering a richly deserved lesson on constitutional propriety to President Maithripala Sirisena, the nation faces sobering questions close to the dawn of a new year.
Betrayal of the electoral compact
Euphoria in preventing the President from tossing the Constitution into the waters of the Indian Ocean in front of his Secretariat on the advice of legal ‘experts’ who should be hanging their heads in shame, is understandable. But relapsing comfortably into complacency when the excitement subsides is not an option this time around. The absence of civic vigilance and a forthright critique of ‘yahapalanaya’ failures was precisely the reason why the 2015 democratic gains were frittered away by the unity coalition, long before both partners ferociously turned on each other.
Lest we forget, the attempted extra-constitutional capture of political power by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on October 26th 2018 did not come upon us in a vacuum. Instead, it was a consequence of betrayal of the 2015 electoral contract by both the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). This must be underscored. Due responsibility must be borne by both parties.
Even so, it is particularly amusing that Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP) should position itself as the constitutional victim on an entirely disingenuous argument that, by precipitating this turn of events, it was only trying to enable an election to be held so that the people could vote for the party of their choice. Just as much as patriotism is the clarion call of scoundrels, the call to the Supreme Court by the SLPP to respect ‘people’s sovereignty’ is the height of political depravity.