Will Ranil use his arm to seize EC?

The brewing conflict with India is still ongoing
Bangladesh sets a deadline for debt payback.
Will Chinese debt relief materialise ?

Last weekend, President Ranil Wickremesinghe visited Siambalanduwa. After visiting the farmers in Siambalanduwa, the President took the time, surrounded by farmers and children, to tell them a lovely story. It concerns an international event. The President stated that he had a phone chat with China’s Finance Minister that day, and that the Chinese Finance Minister responded positively to debt restructuring.

Because the major condition of the International Monetary Fund is to restructure the Chinese debt, everyone assumed that Sri Lanka would be able to secure loan relief from the International Monetary Fund without any difficulty when the President travelled to Siameselanduwa at the time.

President’s false Chinese story

However, while the President’s China story was mostly ignored by our country’s citizens, it was not so for the international community. As a result, the worldwide community, which is paying close attention to the President’s words as well as the representatives of the embassy departments, began making queries about this and seeking for the truth or falsity in this narrative. Furthermore, officials from this country’s major parties requested that the embassy investigate whether or not this is genuine.

There is a particular explanation behind this. That is because some of the worldwide stories that the government previously told the country have been revealed to be untrue. For example, the government once informed the country that Japan had agreed to host a debt conference in Sri Lanka. When the story was revealed in the international media, Japan’s response mail stated that no such decision had been made.

The government then stated that Japan has expressed its willingness to serve as a debt-restructuring mediator. When the foreign media published this story, Japan responded by writing a mail. Because they are aware of the government’s practice, embassy officials and political party leaders made efforts to check the truth or falsity of the story that the president travelled to Siambalanduwa and met with the Chinese finance minister.

They consulted the Chinese ambassador to this country, Mr. Kei Shenhong, who is well-versed in the subject. There, the Chinese ambassador made steps to properly convey the truth of this story, as well as its length and breadth.

What did he speak to Chinese FM

Yes, the President spoke by phone with China’s Finance Minister on Friday. It occurred as a result of a consistent request from the Sri Lankan government. Otherwise, such a conversation would not have taken place on the basis of China’s requirements…’ the Chinese envoy informed the meeting. These individuals inquired once more whether an agreement on the restructuring of China’s debt had been achieved, as the president had stated. The Chinese diplomat responded brilliantly. The Chinese Finance Minister and the President had a very cordial conversation. However, as far as I am aware, no such pledge has been made by the Chinese side.

Chinese Debt restructuring

Another issue is that the Sri Lankan administration did not discuss debt restructuring with the Chinese government. They have communicated with the Chinese banks from which they obtained the loan. So, in accordance with the laws of the banks, they will handle it. We have nothing to do about it right now…’ stated the ambassador.

Government’s short cuts

One thing is certain from the Chinese ambassador’s story. That is, the government has sought shortcuts to restructure China’s debt. Following the lead of Sri Lanka, the Chinese government has stepped back from the debt restructuring process, allowing Chinese banks to handle it their own way.
As a result, the process of restructuring China’s debt, which is the International Monetary Fund’s major requirement, has now reached a crisis point.
However, we conducted study and reported on this topic based on two factors.

The first reason is because no other media outlets covered this story. The other point is that the people of the country need to understand the true state of the Chinese debt restructuring process, which is their primary condition, while the entire country is looking for financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund to help them get out of this economic crisis. The reality is that, regardless of what the president said in Siyabalanduwa, the Chinese debt restructuring process remains precarious.

Government’s issues with India

While the issue with China has evolved in this manner, it appears that the government has also created a crisis with India due to the President’s lack of a formal invitation from India. The first visit to India by a new President of Sri Lanka is customarily to India. This is because India is both the region’s main neighbour and its dominant power. As a result, it was customary for the Indian government to dedicate time to the new president as soon as the Sri Lankan government requested it.

As a result, following the selection of Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe as the new President by the Parliament, the government requested time from India for a meeting. However, India maintained a policy of silence. It is impossible to say exactly why, but it was a unique occurrence in which India did not extend a favourable answer even though the government continued to make requests.

However, because the Narendra Modi government provided no satisfactory response, a particular individual has recently intervened in this operation. Mr. Milinda Moragoda was the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in India at this time. The key reason for this is that, aside from his job, Milind has tight ties with Indian government strongmen. As a result, Milinda stepped into this operation last week using his own connections. In the future, we will be able to see whether its success or failure.

Bangladesh ultimatum

Meanwhile, last week, the Bangladesh Finance Minister met with Sri Lankan officials in a special meeting. The talks took place while State Minister Shehan Semasinghe and Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe were in the United States for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. During this meeting, steps were taken to remind Sri Lanka about the 300 million dollar exchange facility provided by Bangladesh authorities. There, they stated that they had already offered time for the payment of this money twice, and that time could not be extended further. Bangladesh is hoping that the cash will be settled at the appropriate time, according to the country’s finance minister, who alerted government officials

Local government elections

Throughout all of this, there has been a very heated debate within the government as well as within the country about the conducting of local government elections. All opposition parties, including Samagi Jana Balawegaya, have now launched an operation to force the government to hold elections “in accordance with the existing legislation.” They underline that “according to the present law,” local government elections should be conducted by March next year, but the government is currently planning to postpone the elections using various methods and subterfuges.

This government effort was revealed for the first time during a meeting between the President and UNP professionals at the Presidential Secretariat. For the first time during this discussion, the president indicated that the number of 8,000 local government bodies should be reduced to 4,000, and that the chairman’s responsibilities should be transferred to a committee that includes the chairman, with a referendum called if required. The President further stated that the Janasabha system proposed by former Speaker Mr. Karu Jayasuriya might be utilised to demonstrate the neutrality of this remark.

Briefing to the cabinet of ministers

The opposition, on the other hand, pointed out to the country that the President’s entire remark was a ruse to postpone the local government elections. When numerous ministers pointed out to the President during a cabinet meeting that the opposition’s claim was adverse to the government, the President responded, ‘No, I am not bringing this up to postpone the elections.’ The country is requesting a system modification. This is why I’m doing it…’

However, after making such a statement in front of the Cabinet, the President initiated steps to implement the programme last week. That is done by arranging for Karu Jayasuriya to give a lecture on the Janasabha system to cabinet ministers in order to portray this topic as reasonable work. Another person was tied to it by the president. Victor Ivan is a civic organisation activist. As a result, the President without anyone’s knowledge took steps last week to invite Karu and Victor Ivan to the cabinet meeting. So he took steps to have them give a Janasabha system speech to the cabinet ministers. But the most remarkable thing about this was that neither the government nor the participants said anything about it.

Karu’s lecture

Even still, the government was unable to conceal the fact that the president summoned Karu and Victor Ivan to the cabinet and delivered a speech on the Janasabha system. As a result, everyone was shocked that a person like Karu, who fought valiantly for democracy in parliament, notably during the Rajapaksas’ 52-day coup, was ensnared in the government’s deception of postponing the elections, deliberately or unconsciously. However, despite the fact that the Election Commission has issued an official announcement that the local government elections will take place before March, the government’s attempt to postpone the election by showing the Janasabha has now triggered a massive battle both inside and outside the parliament.

Dullas and co meeting the EC

To that end, the group led by Dullas Alahapperuma, who founded the Pohottuwa-based ‘Freedom People’s Assembly,’ joined the struggle to unite the opposition. As a result, first Dallas – G.L. Then remainder of the crew met with the Election Commission and talked about it. Second, a special meeting was held at the Monarch Imperial Hotel in Thalawathugoda for all opposing political party representatives to assemble at one table and deliberate. Despite being invited, all opposition MPs and representatives were there, with the exception of the JVP.

One of the important agreements achieved during that meeting was the signing of an united statement by all opposition parties and civil organisations opposing election postponement. Dallas team laboured last Thursday to plan this event at Parliament’s Committee room No. 7. The most notable occurrence was that, in addition to the opposition parties, the Frontline Socialist Party, which does not represent the Parliament, arrived and signed it, but only the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna did not.

Supreme court verdict

Meanwhile, the government suffered yet another political setback last week. This is because the Supreme Court determined that the Rehabilitation Act proposed by the government is unconstitutional. The opposition accused the administration of violating basic human rights by introducing this bill targeting activists. That is why SJB MP S.M. Marikkar has took steps to file a petition against it in court.

The Supreme Court, which considered the petition, eventually determined that the words “strugglers” and “fighters” should be deleted from the Rehabilitation Act, and that it can be included to rehabilitate drug addicts if necessary. Along with the court’s strong signal, the administration is now waiting to see what decision the court will make on the legal action the opposition is planning to take about the postponement of the elections. Many in the opposition believe that this is why the administration is developing platform throgh introducing the Janasabha system.

Opposition leader’s meeting with EC

Meanwhile, opposition leader Mr. Sajith Premadasa called the Chairman of the Election Commission, attorney at law Mr.Nimal Punchihewa, last week. That is, to enquire about the conduct of local government elections. Sajith then asked the Chairman of the Election Commission that he is prepared to question about the local government polls in Parliament the following week, and what the Commission’s view was on the conducting of the election. The Chairman of the Election Commission told Sajith explicitly that his commission is unable to postpone the polls at all. However, the chairman reminded Sajith that various political tricks may be employed to postpone the election, and the commission is keeping an eye on it.

When the LG elections be held

‘We can call for elections even now. However, doing so would be unjust to almost 2.5 lakh youth voters. As a result, we are prepared to declare the vote as soon as the voter list is complete. However, there may be some political stumbling blocks. So we have to look at it from that perspective…’ stated the Election Commission Chairman to Sajith.

22nd constitutional amendment

Meanwhile, Ranil announced last week that the 22nd constitutional amendment would be presented and debated in parliament on the 20th and 21st. The primary issue, however, was that a number of Basil supporters, including Pohottu General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam, said that they would not endorse the 22. The grounds for their complaint was section 22, which specifies that a person with dual citizenship cannot attend Parliament. As a result, Sagara Kariyawasam, Sanjeeva Edirimanna, W.D. Weerasinghe, and others conducted press conferences from the Pohottuwa main office and publicly voiced their opposition to the 22nd.

General secretary’s opposition

Furthermore, Sagara Kariyawasam reminded the President directly that he has a group of 30 MPs with him and that if 22 is presented in this manner, they will vote against it, and in that case, those who present 22 should own responsibility. However, the President stated that the alteration was not submitted by him, but by Gotabhaya, and that any amendments should be addressed and resolved with Mr. Vijayadasa Rajapaksa. Despite what the President mentioned, there has been a significant opposition to 22 in the Pohottuwa MP group for several weeks.

Emergency Govt.MPs meeting

As a result, plans were made to convene an emergency members of parliament group meeting in Pohottuwa to solicit feedback from the community. A special MP group meeting was scheduled of Pohottuwa on Wednesday at 11 a.m., according to a notification sent to all MPs on Tuesday evening. The meeting will be convened by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. The announcement further stated that because Justice Minister Wijayadasa will be there, existing issues will be discussed and rectified.

Justice minister abstaine

As soon as this message was received, one of Pohottuwa’s MPs was heard demanding that Vijayadasa should be thoroughly investigated. The cause for this was a media speech given by Vijayadasa the day before. In that address, Vijayadasa stated that all Pohottua MPs should support the 22nd amendment, and that those who do not will face consequences. Learning about the MPs plans to question him Vijayadasa before the meeting Vijayadasa chose not to attend the Wednesday meeting.

President summoned to the meeting

The meeting began without Vijayadasa. A significant number of Pohottuwa members took the initiative to speak out against the 22nd amendment at this gathering as well. Mahinda appeared to be paying close attention to their points of view. Finally, when considerable resistance to 22 surfaced among Pohottu MPs, Mahinda directed Dinesh to notify the President immediately. Dinesh stated that since Mr. Ashu Marasinghe, the President’s Parliamentary Secretary, is in the parliamentary group meeting, efforts taken to alert the President of the situation.

President in his office

However, something unusual was going on in Parliament at the moment that no one in Pohottuwa was aware of. Because the President, who had known for a long time that this objection would be raised in the meeting of the Pohottu Members of Parliament, arrived at the Parliament on Wednesday morning and sat in his office. Dinesh, unaware of this, informed Ashu to notify the President of the situation. According to Ashu, the President is still in his office in Parliament. As a result, when Ashu left the meeting to collect the president, the MPs chuckled and said, ‘everything is pre-planned, and come slowly and seat down, right?’ After Ashu left, the Pohottu MPs joked, ‘We had no idea Ranil was in Parliament.’ That suggests they came knowing about it…’

SB vents his opposition

S.B. Dissanayake was the first to speak after the President arrived.   It was stated that modifications that undermine the executive should not be accepted, and that for a country to thrive, the executive should have authority. Giving examples of industrialised countries, it was further said that all of those countries are dictatorships.

Ranil dismisses all objections

Ranil replied with a smile and said that Gota, who was brought to power by being called a dictator, had to leave the country, and that he should work with his brain and not as a dictator. ‘This work cannot be completed now that you have brought in a tyrant. What happened to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who was dubbed a tyrant because he wielded two-thirds of the government’s power and expanded executive powers through the 20th amendment? He, too, was unable to remain in Sri Lanka.

These things cannot be done due of the dictatorship. I also came here when I needed a Hitler. But when I walk in like that, I play a mental game. That is the proper procedure. This 22nd amendment must be passed. Because the international community is keeping an eye on this. We must demonstrate to them that we are willing to relinquish executive power and go on a democratic journey.

Ranil’s threat!

That is the view of the world community. As a result, if we fail to pass this, international public opinion will turn against us. If that happens, I won’t be able to hang on to this. If such a situation emerges, I will be forced to dissolve parliament and call a general election in April of next year. But I’ve promised them that the Parliament will not be dissolved in two and a half years after this bill is passed…’ Unaware of what he was doing, Ranil made steps to frighten the Pohottuve MP group by referring to the vote. Also, Ranil gave an explanation to the MPs about how to take over the executive powers of the 22nd amendment without reducing them.

Taking control of commissions

‘Look, the government now has no control over the commissions appointed under Gota’s 20th amendment. Consider what happened to Gota. Finally, those who appointed him did not release him. My house was destroyed by fire. What did the Human Rights Commission ultimately do? Instead of hunting for those responsible for my residence, they interrogated my chief security officer…’ the President stated, launching a hard attack on the Election Commission and its Chairman, Mr. Nimal Punchiheva.

Davide the opposition

‘Look at the other side of the coin, the Election Commission is attempting to hold elections at this time.’ Is it time for these elections? We have no say in the matter. That’s why I’m attempting to bring these 22 back and reclaim control of this power. My power will not be diminished if 22 is passed. I keep this in mind for them. When 22 is enacted, we will be able to designate appropriate members to the commissions and take control of them. As a result, what we need to do at this point is divide the opposition rather than divide the administration. We were effective in splitting the opposition.

Sanjeeva Edirimannah then talked. Sanjeewa stated that he is opposed to the section that prohibits dual citizens from voting in Parliament and that he will not vote for it. Sanjeeva informed the President that he is unwilling to raise his hand in opposition to these modifications because they are aimed at people. The president also provided a safe response.

Ranil’s orange revolution?

This is not a proposal from myself or Vijayadasa. Former President Mr. Gotabhaya brought this up. He is the one who added the dual citizenship clause. That is why I have no objections to it. You should debate it with Vijayadas and make changes at the committee level. I’m carrying out a ‘Orange Operation.’ In Ukraine, Putin is carrying out a “Orange Revolution.” The goal of Operation Orange is to demonstrate the existence of a referendum and get public approval for it. This is what I’m doing right now….” The President’s analysis, which used unusual terminology, surprised the group of MPs in Pohottua.

Pohottuwa agrees

As a result, despite the fact that the MPs from Pohottu came to this meeting with an anti-22 stance, it was clear at the conclusion, following the president’s unusual words, that there was a rift in the Pohottu MP group based on the 22. At the same time, State Minister Tharaka Balasuriya, who represents the Balasuriya family, which is regarded to be close to Rajapaksas, stated his support for 22. The Balasuriya family was reported to be close to Rajapaksa since Mahinda gave Taraka Balasuriya’s father Jagath Balasuriya and Kumari Balasuriya important posts in the government during Mahinda’s term. However, Tharaka Balasuriya, who spoke here, stated that he would not advocate for individuals and would support this constitutional reform directed at the public.

Tense situation ends

With Taraka’s statement, it was clear that the tense situation that existed before the President arrived at the meeting had dissipated. Another major factor was Ranil’s constant insistence to the Pohottuve councilor group that this constitutional revision would have opposition support. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had been there until that point, was also observed exiting the gathering to pay his respects to Atamasthanadipa Pallegama Sirinivasa Thero.

Consulted Basil ?

As a result, the Pohottu councillors, who were perplexed, left the meeting and convened separately to debate the problem. Participants in the conversation included Johnston, Sagara Kariyawasam, and Sanjeeva Edirimanna. They asked each other what decision they should make now. As a result, it was advised to contact Basil immediately and consult with Namal before making a choice.

Additionally, at this meeting, the Pohottu MPs took steps to confirm the story that the President continued to say that the 22 would be entitled to the opposition’s support. As a result, one of the MPs called opposition leader Sajith and inquired about the situation. Sajith stated that SJB intends to support it subject to certain conditions. At the time, it was also alleged that the President had told Sajith multiple times that he would support SJB 22 at the Pohottu MPs group meeting, that he would seize control of independent commissions, and then split SJB. Sajith was also informed that Ranil Pohottuwa had been intimidated by selling SJB.

Namal’s position

Meanwhile, the MPs met with Namal again to discuss the decision that would be made on the 22nd. Many MPs questioned Namal’s position on the 22 if the power of the commissions is also vested in the President, as the President claims, and if the SJB is divided. As a result, by voting in favour of 22, the MPs urged that the MPs be able to vote for or against it when the committee discussed dual citizenship. However, the members of Pohottu were unable to reach a final conclusion on 22.

SJB discuss 22 amendment

Meanwhile, SJB took steps last Thursday to call the parliamentary group meeting (20). It was in the office of the opposition leader in Colombo. There, the focus was mostly on two special issues. The administration will propose the 22nd amendment. The government’s attempt to postpone the elections is the other.

‘At this time, we cannot allow the constitution to be modified to meet the political needs of any individual. This has created an unfavourable precedent. A country’s constitution is its most distinctive document. This time it’s not a statement…’ That’s how opposition leader Sajith began his remarks. ‘You are entirely correct. People in the parliament raised their hands to 17, 18, 19, and 20…’ remarked Harsha.
The dissolution of parliament lasts two and a half years. The amendment concerning the Constituent Assembly should be approved. The dual citizenship ban should be enacted. We should make a choice about 22 based on these conditions…’ Kiriella explained.

SJB’s ‘Husmak’ 53rd phase

Meanwhile, the 53rd phase of Samagi Jana Balavega’s ‘Husmak’ saw the donation of 550,000 rupees in dental surgery equipment to the Maharagama Oral Health Institute. Sajith, the opposition leader, led it.Hospital equipment and medications worth 160,266,900 rupees have been donated in 53 social care programmes run in cooperation with the Samagi Jana Balawegayene Khasaak programme run by the Samagi Jana Balavegaya.

A government that has retained power in its hands cannot see that patients are battling for their lives without treatment. People are fighting for their lives. The government is fighting for power. Parents are fighting to provide their children with a nutritious supper and an education.
The government is fighting for the appointment of some ministers. This country’s young people are struggling to find work and raise their heads. The administration is fighting to keep the youth under control. The children of this country are fighting to build a lovely country.

The government is fighting to reach an agreement and gain some money. What makes us different from the government? We are completely committed to the people’s battle. The administration is fighting to consolidate control by all means necessary…’ After the show, Sajith spoke to the reporters.

By Special corrospondent

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