What will the government’s next ruse be to prevent the election?
• How the government raises funds for new ministers
The speaker’s double standard is revealed
We took efforts to defend democracy by disclosing all of the government’s plots over the past two or three months to somehow postpone the local government elections to the country via this column, while no other media reported on it. Consequently, from the very beginning, we divulged to the nation one by one the government’s plots to postpone the mini elections, as well as how attempt was disrupted and the reasons for this disruption. There, we once made the following observations:
‘Taking the government to the polls is like taking a mad dog for a bath’
Plan to reduce 8000- 4000 councilors
This is a story told by an opposition MP in a public press conference about the government’s plan to postpone the elections. This opposition member said so because the current president, led by Pohottuwa, used various strategies, tricks and subterfuges to postpone the local government elections from the beginning.
One of them was to declare that there are more than 8,000 councillors in the local government bodies and it should be reduced to 4,000. The second was the declaration that the power of local government heads should be decentralized to a group.
karu – victor briefing
The third was the appointment of a new committee for delimitation under the leadership of former Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya. The fourth was to bring the village council system to the fore again according to the concept of the former speaker Mr. Karu Jayasuriya. In this regard, Karu and a civil activist, Victor Ivan, even came to the cabinet and took steps to brief the cabinet ministers. But with the opposition taking steps to inform the people from time to time about all this, the government realized that the job of postponing the vote is quite difficult.
25% youth representation
Accordingly, the government had taken steps to implement several new plans a few weeks ago. One of them was to present a proposal to the cabinet that youth representation should be 25% in local government bodies and to regulate expenses and take steps to pass it without much hassle. The second plan was to quickly appoint representatives to the Constituent Assembly established through the 22nd constitutional amendment and through that appoint representatives favorable to them to other commissions including the Election Commission and plan to postpone the elections.
No money excuse
But when that also failed, the government tried to postpone the vote saying that there was a division within the Election Commission. It ended after all the five members of the commission came to the press conference and held a news conference. Then, the government has been saying all along that due to the economic crisis, there is no money to hold elections, and at least no money to pay public servant salaries.
However, where all these efforts failed, we exposed another shameful conspiracy by the government to the country last week through the ‘Rajya Rahas’ column and the ‘Mawrata’ news page. There we said that the government used Mr. Neil Bandara Hapuhinna, who was the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration, to set up another subterfuge to postpone the election. What happened there was that the Cabinet Secretary sent a special letter to Mr. Neil Hapuhinna and the Chairman of the Election Commission, Mr. Nimal Punchihewa, saying that it was a decision taken at the Cabinet meeting held last week.
In the letter sent by the Cabinet Secretary, it was stated that Mr. Hapuhinna has been notified to suspend the acceptance of pledges by the political parties and candidates of the Mini vote. Accordingly, Mr. Hapuhinna immediately summoned all the District Secretaries to Colombo and gave them a special letter saying that the Cabinet Secretary had informed him that the Cabinet had taken a decision not to accept the election deposit for the Local Government Election, and accordingly the District Secretaries should refrained from accepting the deposit.
Withdrawal of the letter
However, the district secretaries who were present immediately after receiving this letter said that it is the election officials who accept the election deposit money for the local government election, and that it is illegal to send a letter like this as the election commission is the competent authority in the background where the election commission calls the election and conducts related activities. Hapuhinna, who realized the extent of the mistake, not only informed all the district secretaries to consider that such a letter had not been received, but within a few hours he also took steps to send another letter by recalling the relevant letter.
However, a serious question that arose here was whether the cabinet made a cabinet decision which triggered Hapuhinna to forward of such a letter; because in the inquiries made to several cabinet ministers about it, they also said that no such decision was taken, and at least there was no discussion about it. Accordingly, this suspicion was exposed and highlighted to the country for the first time through the ‘Rajya Rahas’ column last week.
Due to the letter sent by the Secretary of the Ministry of State Administration, Provincial Councils and Local Government Mr. Neil Bandara Hapuhinna to all the district secretaries to suspend the acceptance of the deposits of political parties for the local government elections, created a big crisis with in the political arena.
Fake Cabinet decision.
The reason for that is the statement made by Mr. Hapuhinna in his letter that this decision was taken by the cabinet and notified to him.
Although a letter to this effect was sent to Mr. Hapuhinna by the Cabinet Secretary, according to the unofficial information available so far, such a discussion has not taken place in the Cabinet meeting held last Monday.
It has also been learned from various sources that no related cabinet paper has been presented to the cabinet meeting.
In this regard, it is said that in the inquiries made by certain parties to the Cabinet Ministers, they have also stated that no such cabinet paper has been submitted to the Cabinet.
In addition to this, Mr. Anura Kumara Dissanayake said in a press conference held recently that the cabinet should make a statement on whether the unconstitutional decision to suspend the acceptance of election deposit money was taken or not.
However, it is very significant that no minister of the government has made a public statement that such a proposal has been passed in the cabinet.
Accordingly, based on the letters issued by the Cabinet Secretary and Mr. Hapuhinna, huge controversy stirred in the political field.
Subsequent to this, three more incidents happened which confirmed that this news we uncovered was 100% correct. The first of which was the Director General of the Election Commission, Mr. Saman Sri Ratnayake, who responded to the letter issued by Hapuhinna and sent a letter to all election officials to accept election deposit money. The second incident was that the Election Commission immediately summoned Hapuhinna to the Election Commission to inquire about this matter.
Hapuhinna told the commission that he forwarded this letter in accordance with a notification received from the Cabinet Secretary, but as soon as he realized that the action was unconstitutional, he proceeded to withdraw the letter, and apologized if the Election Commission was inconvenienced by his action. That such a thing will not happen from now on. Hapuhinna’s apology was confirmed by the commission by issuing a notice to the effect.
The third incident was when Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena admitted that no such cabinet decision was taken during the questioning of Mr. Sajith Premadasa, leader of the opposition in Parliament, and Mr. Anura Kumara Dissanayake, leader of the National People’s Force. Accordingly, Anura Dissanayake made a serious allegation that the letter sent by the Cabinet Secretary not to accept the election deposit money was sent as to whose wishes and how it happened, and that an evil hand above the Cabinet is directing all this.
Cat got out of the bag
However, the cat got out of the bag in a statement issued by UNP President Mr. Vajira Abeywardena to the media. When the media questioned Wajira about Hapuhinna’s issue, he said that government officials are bound to accept the orders issued by the President. According to Vajira’s story, it became clear to the country from where the order had been issued.
Election expenses bill
When the operation to get Hapuhinna to postpone the election was foiled, the heads of the government finally planned to play the final trump card through the parliament to postpone the election. It is with the aim of preparing a way to postpone the election by passing the Election Expenses Regulation Bill immediately and push back the election. Accordingly, the authorities of the government planned to have the Minister of Justice Wijayadasa submit this bill to the parliament on Tuesday and pass it within the same week.
But the problem arose after the submission of the draft on Tuesday, after opposition leader Sajitut and JVP leader Anura revealed the government’s sinister plan behind it and Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapaksa agreed to postpone the introduction of the bill by a month in view of the continued influence that this bill should be amended.
There, Sajith and Anura had pointed out to the government that there is no problem in bringing this Act, but if someone goes before the court demanding that these laws be applied to this election through the sudden passing of this Act, there will be a danger of delaying the currently called Local Government Elections. Therefore, the opposition asked the government to include a clause in the Act saying that this Act is not valid for this local government election. A positive response was also received from Wijayadasa.
Taking Wijedasa to task!
But the problem arose when Justice Minister Wijayadasa agreed to bring the bill after a month on Tuesday, when the government authorities suddenly decided to pass it on Thursday. When it was announced on Wednesday, it was seen that the Parliament was agitated like a madmen.
The chief organizer of the opposition, Kiriella, publicly accused the government’s no ‘one… two…’ scolded Wijayadasa, and accordingly, the government planned to pass the bill and postpone the election despite Wijayadasa’s promise to Parliament. The position of the opposition was that a meeting of party leaders should be called immediately to discuss this matter. Accordingly, it was decided to hold a special meeting of party leaders in Parliament on Wednesday at 1 pm.
It is surprising happening that the heads of the government had suddenly decided to have a vote on the bill on Thursday against the backdrop of Wijayadasa agreeing to postpone this bill by a month even in the advisory committee of the Ministry of Justice held on Tuesday. On the other hand, it was also a special event that in the report presented by Wijayadasa to the Parliament on Wednesday, it was mentioned that this Act will be postponed by a month.
Party leader’s meeting
However, under such a background, the speaker had called another special party leaders’ meeting on Wednesday afternoon and had taken steps to inform the Parliament that President Ranil Wickremesinghe would also participate. At the same time, once again the leaders of the opposition protested the speaker and said that if the president calls a meeting of party leaders, it should be held after the meeting of party leaders which had been agreed to be held at 1 pm.
Only Hakeem opposed it
At first, it was observed the speaker agreed to it, but with the objections of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Leader of the House Susil Premajayantha and the chief organizer of the ruling party, Prasanna Ranatunga, the speaker decided to hold the President’s party leaders’ meeting before the party leaders’ meeting in Parliament, in spite of the opposition’s objections. The move was a special incident of noteworthy.
In response to that, not only opposition leader Sajith and JVP leader Anura, but also the Tamil National Alliance, Dullas-G.L. decided to boycott the party leaders’ meeting chaired by the president. However, Maithripala Sirisena and Dayasiri Jayasekerat representing the Sri Lanka Freedom party and Rauf Hakimuth representing the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress participated on the opposition side. There, Maithripalath and Dayasiri demanded that this bill be passed in the parliament as soon as possible, but Hakeem protested against it and highlighted the need of postponement of this bill by one month as promised by the government.
President’s attempt to supress parliament
However, the opposition boycotted the party leader’s meeting chaired by the president and then took steps to attend the party leader’s meeting without the president. The ‘Rajya Rahas’ column learns that Sajith and Anura have severely criticized the government’s duplicity and the President’s attempt to suppress the Parliament. It is also news that the leaders of the government who participated in the meeting have been severely criticized by the opposition party leaders.
In this way, while the government is making all efforts to urgently pass the Election Act in the Parliament, the President had also launched a special program to get the full support of the people for this Act.
Basil’s blame to the government
That was through conducting a highly confidential round of negotiations with Mr. Basil Rajapaksa who was the head of Pohottuwa. Sagala Ratnayake and Vajira Abeywardena participated in this secret discussion representing the President’s side, while Sagara Kariyawasam participated in the discussion representing Basil’s side. It was a special event that Basil took a strong position and commented from the beginning of the discussion. To strengthen the government after the appointment of the President the fact is that none of the proposals presented by Pohottuwa were implemented, at least the proposals regarding the appointment of cabinet ministers were not implemented, which led to Basil’s strong criticism. Basil expressed his opinion so strongly that it was surprising to note that such a statement came out of Basil’s mouth at that time.
No matter what implement our suggestion Basil’s retort
‘It’s the same for me whether you have these elections or not. Whether the government wins them or not is the same. But if you want to strengthen the government, implement the proposals that we have presented. When Basil said, “Give cabinet ministers to the members of Pohottuwa…”, it was seen that the president was facing a situation where he could not disagree with Basil’s requirments. Accordingly, the President agreed to implement Basil’s proposals and agreed to give seven of the remaining 12 cabinet minister posts to Pohottuwa.
The President had decided to appoint members of the government who are friendly to him for the remaining five cabinet positions. Accordingly, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Johnston Fernando, Pavitra Vanniarachchi, S.M. Chandrasena, Rohitha Abeygunawardena from Pohottuwa and others from the President’s side Vajira Abeywardena, Duminda Dissanayake and Jeevan Thondaman were decided to be appointed as cabinet ministers. It was also agreed to appoint the rest of the cabinet ministers intermittently before the 20th to prevent public opposition.
However, in this discussion, the full cabinet was supposed to be sworn in by the 20th, but due to various crises that arose within the government, it was seen to be delayed. Accordingly, during the reminders from Pohottuwa’s side, the President’s side had informed that due to the emerging crisis, it could not be done before the 20th, and that the President would appoint the cabinet by the 25th. But after that, a message received from the President’s side to Basil said that the cabinet reshuffle will not take place even on the 25th, and that it will be delayed for a few more weeks.
Accordingly, once again Ranil’s team received a message from Basil’s side. Even then, all the trump cards played to postpone the election failed and the only hope left for the government was to somehow lead to the postponement of the election through the Election Expenses Regulation Act brought to the Parliament. For that, the support of the bud is essential. It is no secret that in order to pass the Act Pohottuwa Support needed for that, the demands of the Pohottuwa must be met somehow. Accordingly, in a message sent by Ranil’s side to Basil, it was said that the government is ready to fulfil the demands of Pohottuwa. The Prime Minister had also intervened to deliver this message to Pohottuwa.
Attempt to prevent public outcry
Accordingly, it was suggested by the President that if 10 Pohottu MPs were sworn in as Cabinet Ministers at the same time, it could lead to strong opposition within the country, so he was ready to give Minister Ships to Pohottu MPs in intervals. Accordingly, to confirm that word symbolically, in the first phase, it was decided to give the positions of cabinet ministers to Pavitra from the side of Pohottuwa and Jeevan Thondaman from the side of the President. It was soon approved. Last Thursday at 11.30 am Pavitrath and Jeevan were sworn in as Ministers according to that agreement.
However, although the government laid traps to postpone the election through this act, it is also known that a difficult situation has arisen to postpone the election through an amendment added by Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapaksa and the Election Commission at the last minute. New regulations related to the election should be prepared within 5 days after the nominations are gazetted, and the commission is ready to prepare those regulations within 5 days and continue the election process.
Complaint to international bodies
However, the opposition has decided to inform the International Parliamentary Association and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association about the unethical act of the government to postpone the election in this way. Last Wednesday night, a special discussion was held between the leaders of the opposition parties in this regard, where the opposition had decided to take this decision. Also, the representatives of the opposition who met the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Mr. Finn, who came to Sri Lanka recently, had taken steps to fully inform him about these illegal activities being carried out by the government. Sources say that the Secretary General was surprised after learning this information.
Mujibar resigns from Parliament
The Election Commission is currently making all arrangements for the local government election. On this occasion, on last Friday, SJB Member of Parliament Mr. Mujibar Rahman resigned from his position as a Member of Parliament to run for the Colombo Municipal Council. But knowing what the results of the elections would be, the representatives of the government, who are well aware of the serious situation that the government will have to face in the future, have not stopped their efforts to postpone the elections. Hence, it should be noted that everyone is paying attention to what the government will do in the next few days.
Visit of special representatives from overseas
Last week, two special representatives came to Sri Lanka to meet the President and other high level representatives of the government. The first of them was the US government’s security in the Central and Asian regions. She came to Sri Lanka and took steps to meet the President and hold talks. In addition, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Mr. Finn, also visited Sri Lanka last week and took steps to meet the President and other ministers. In both discussions, a common topic was discussed between the two sides. One of the common topics was nothing else but that elections should be held on time. The American Secretary and the Secretary General of the Commonwealth took steps to inform the President and the government about this.
EU countries message to the Government
In addition, a number of countries belonging to the European Commission have informed the government that elections should be held on time. They have also pointed out to the government that if they want to deal fairly with the international community, they should respect democracy and hold elections on time. Accordingly, one is clear. That is, in order to recover from the situation the country is currently facing, the local government elections should be held properly. Otherwise, it has been seen that it has reached an inevitable level that the international aid will be greatly affected.
Rajitha join government
On the last Thai Pongal day, a special Thai Pongal ceremony was held at the house of a woman who is very closely associated with Colombo politics. Usually, this woman conducts Thai Pongal festival almost every year in her house and it is a common sight that politicians attend it regardless of party or opposition. Accordingly, two special representatives participated in the recently held event. One of them was the mastermind of Pohottuwa, Basil Rajapaksa. The other person was Sajaba Member of Parliament Rajitha Senaratne, who is said to be ‘ joined the government ‘ many occasions in the past. There was also a special discussion between the two. The topic of discussion was about Rajitha joining the government.
First asking about it, Basil said that there is an opinion spread in the political circles that he is against Rajitha joining the government and becoming a minister, and he is not against it at all.
There is a talk everywhere that I am against you taking this ministry. I am not against it in any way because you are someone who worked with us. Because of that, I also say that you should come into the government and work together with us…’ when Basil said, ‘Why is this president postponing this… otherwise I would also like to work together with the government…’. According to Rajitha’s answer, there is a very high possibility that Rajitha will also be given a ministerial post in the future.
TNA leave the negotiation table with President
A few weeks ago, another round of talks with the Tamil National Alliance had started at the President’s invitation to provide solutions to the ethnic problem in the north. Accordingly, TNA had participated in two rounds of talks with the President. Here they had indicated to the President that the 13th constitutional amendment should be fully enforced and accordingly all powers should be given to the North and East provinces. But in these negotiations, the Tamil National Alliance has realized that once again the President is following a policy of delaying the negotiations. Accordingly, the Tamil National Alliance has decided not to discuss with the President any further. The leader of the Tamil National Alliance Mr. R. Sampanhan has also made an announcement in this regards to the media.