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Country longitude: political crisis in Sri Lanka (Political Tormoil in Sri Lanka)

Context

Sri Lankan President Maitripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Vikramasinghe and appointed former President Mahinda Rajapakse as the new Prime Minister of the country, after which there has been an atmosphere of political instability in Sri Lanka. Delegated Prime Minister Vikramasinghe said that he has enough strength to prove his majority. On the other hand, Vikramsinghe, on the other hand, termed his dismissal as illegal and unconstitutional, refused to accept this decision and demanded an emergency session to prove the majority, after which President Mittipala Sirisena will announce the coming November 16, 2018 Has suspended the Parliament so that their supported Rajapaksa can mobilize the necessary force for the motion of confidence. But the Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament, Karu Jayasurya, called Vikramsinghe as the Prime Minister and President Mithipala has raised questions about the suspension of Sirisena Parliament.

Political background

  • Sirisena won a surprise victory in the presidential election in 2015. He defeated Rajapaksa twice the President. President Mittipala Sirisena’s United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) fought parliamentary elections in collaboration with Ranil Wickramasinghe’s United National Party (UNP).
  • After the coalition victory, Ranil Vikramasinghe became the Prime Minister of the country. Their basic aim was to improve the constitutional and governance system with a new constitution to resolve the long-term issues of Tamil minorities.
  • On Friday, under a sudden drama, President Sirisena’s party broke the coalition with Prime Minister Vikramasinghe’s party. On Friday, the President called Sri Lanka’s former President Mahinda Rajapakse and administered the oath of office to Prime Minister.
  • After this, Ranil Vikramsinghe demanded a special session to prove his majority in the Parliament, describing the president’s decision as “illegal” and “unconstitutional”. But before this, the President issued the order to suspend the Parliament till November 16.

Why is there a political crisis in Sri Lanka?

  • Parliamentary Affairs Minister Karu Jayasuriya has refused to support the President’s decision to sack Vikramsinghe as Prime Minister.
  • In a letter, Jayasuriya questioned the President’s decision to suspend Parliament till November 16, saying that its country would have “serious and undesirable” consequences.
  • There is a constitutional crisis as well as a political crisis in Sri Lanka. Sirisena was losing its prestige somewhere, due to political turmoil and some other reasons. The causes of the crisis are:
  1. Sirisena wanted a decision on these matters from the council of cabinet, many of them could not be judged. For example, the dispute related to appointment between Sirisena and Ranil Vikramasinghe in the judiciary and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
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  3. There was also a big issue about Sirisena’s Fraud. It included a cabinet minister’s name. And the question was raised, what action did they take while staying at the Prime Minister’s post?
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  5. Bad situation of law and order
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  7. There was also a conflict between the Sri Lankan President and the Prime Minister for the last few weeks about Indian investments, which was another major reason for the dispute. A few days ago, there was a debate over the East Coast container in the cabinet meeting. The Prime Minister favors Indian investment in developing this project, while the President was not acceptable to it.
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  9. The anti-India attitude of the President came in a much more rigorous form when he accused India’s intelligence agency ‘Raw’ of plotting to murder him, though he later retracted it.

How fair is the use of constitutional rights by the President?

  • In Sri Lanka, there is a semi-presidential system of governance, in which the president has a big role in addition to the prime minister and the cabinet.
  • Before 2015, the prime minister was responsible for the country’s legislature. Whereas, the head of the presidential executive was the head of the government and the head of the armed forces. That is, in view of this, the President had more powers than the prime minister.
  • Until 2015, there was also an independent right to remove the Prime Minister in the hands of the President and dissolve Parliament. But after the 19th Amendment made in Article 46 (2) of the Constitution in 2015, the President has no right to remove the Prime Minister from his discretion. At the same time, until the Parliament has completed four and a half years from the prescribed period of five years, the President has no right to dissolve it. He can not use the power to remove the Prime Minister at his discretion.
  • The prime minister can be sacked only when the cabinet is sacked or the prime minister resigns from his post or the prime minister’s membership ends. The President can only remove a minister on the advice of the Prime Minister.
  • Apart from this, the Sri Lankan Constitution also says that if the Prime Minister can not get confidence vote in the House or pass government policy or budget, then the President can dismiss the Prime Minister.
  • But, the noteworthy fact is that there was no such situation when President Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Vikramasinghe on Friday.
  • Apart from this, Prime Minister Vikram Ransinghe also claims that as long as the cabinet exists it is the head of the cabinet. While being in the cabinet, he can not be removed from the post of Prime Minister.
  • In such a situation, it becomes a judicial case, but it is certain that the President has dissolved the Parliament session for three weeks and has certainly created some difficulty. A lot can change in these three weeks.
  • This whole process has created a situation of instability in the country. The situation should be clarified as soon as possible. The only way to do this is by convening a session of Parliament to see who has the majority and it should be done immediately.

Presidential arguments and lawmakers opinion

  • President Maitripala Sirisena wrote a letter to the sacked Prime Minister Vikram Singh, in which he had declared his dismissal as constitutional right after taking oath as Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new Prime Minister.
  • In this letter, he wrote, “I have removed you as the Prime Minister under the powers given to the President by Article 42 (4) of the Constitution.”
  • Lawologists of Sri Lanka say that there is no provision to remove the prime minister in Article 42 (4). This Article allows the President to appoint only the Member of Parliament as the Prime Minister for which he feels that it will gain trust in the House.
  • It also says that under article 42 (4), if President has given Mahinda Rajapakse as the Prime Minister first chance then this is also his wrong decision, because even after withdrawing the support of the UPF, the Vikramsinghe government There are more seats than the nearest Rajapaksa.
  • In this situation, Vikramsinghe should have given the first opportunity to form the government.
  • The experts also say that the decision to suspend Parliament till November 16 by the President is an opportunity given directly to the new Prime Minister Rajapakse to raise the majority. This move of the president will encourage the purchase and distribution of MPs.

What is the option?

  • Three arguments are being given as an alternative to political crisis in Sri Lanka – constitutional, judicial and political.
  • After this incident, the way to go to court is definitely open. It seemed that the court would be knocked on the door, but there is no interest in going to the court of Rajapaksa.
  • On the other hand Ranil Vikramsinghe is still not showing any interest in going to the court. TNA and JDP opposition parties are definitely saying that parliamentary beliefs should be maintained, the throat of democracy should not be eroded, but they are not saying openly that Ranil Vikramasinghe should be the only prime minister.
  • There is no law against procurement in the country. The things of purchase are getting comfortable. A minister of Ranil Vikramasinghe has alleged that Rajapakse is buying MPs from the money coming through China.
  • Among the 12 ministers who took oath in the cabinet, there are 4 such who were considered to be supporters of Ranil Vikramasinghe. At the same time, two people are now saying that they will be with Ranil in support of Rajapakse.
  • Therefore, the statistics of 125 versus 98 can change this statistic, but the fight is definitely political at this time.
  • At present no party is ready to knock on the door of the court. Both are looking to cash in on this politically.

Sri Lanka’s political crisis affects India

  • Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s re-entry into domestic politics can have its widespread impact on economy, foreign policy and democracy. The latest political unrest can weaken the confidence of international investors.
  • India is working in several areas like Port, Petroleum and Gas, Housing, Airport in Sri Lanka. Where Vikramsinghe favors Indian investment, President Sirisena has been against the attitude.
  • There is tremendous potential for economic cooperation between the two countries. India is investing extensively in Sri Lanka. There is no internal crisis in the country after the end of the Tamil insurgency.
  • But if there is a political crisis and instability in Sri Lanka again, then India can also have its disadvantage.
  • If Rajapaksa regains power in Sri Lanka again, then the proximity of Sri Lanka and China will increase. China has invested billions of dollars in huge projects in Sri Lanka.
  • If China’s dominance increases, then as a result, China’s geopolitical influence and strategic interference can increase in the Indian Ocean region, and India, as a regional power, does not want any other country’s presence in this area.
  • Concerned between Sri Lanka and China, India is concerned about concern. The way Sri Lankan government supports China in recent years, it is a threat bell to India directly.
  • So far the views of the political parties here are of two types. On one side where the Chinese interfere with linking Sri Lanka with sovereignty, the other considers it necessary for development.
  • The same effort of both China and India remains that their own party in Sri Lanka becomes the government.
  • Due to being a neighboring country, the impact of a major political turmoil in Sri Lanka can be a big challenge for India’s foreign diplomacy. Recently, the Maldivian crisis had raised the problems of India and now the impact of Sri Lanka’s political instability on India is being discussed.
  • Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry has commented on the political instability of Sri Lanka and said that democratic values ​​and constitutional process should be respected in the neighboring country.

Influence of China

  • In this kind of politics, there is nothing new and can be seen in all the countries, but the way China activated in Sri Lanka’s politics, it has surprised the whole world.
  • At the same time, the speculation also took hold that China played the role in this coup.
  • It also came to be known that China is making arrangements for the money that is needed for the defection. It is difficult to understand the truth of these speculations, but it is true that Mahinda Rajapaksa has long been considered China’s supporter.
  • China’s strategy to make its clout in all the countries around India was settled in Sri Lanka during the tenure of Mahima Rajapakse.
  • It is also said that due to this Sri Lanka has been trapped in a very big financial crisis. Ranil Vikramsinghe had started to overturn these policies as soon as he came to power and in the end he had to suffer from power.
  • During the reign of Rajapaksha Sri Lanka has been closely linked to China and the traditional power of South Asia has been far from India. Given the urgent need of Colombo’s foreign capital, now China will be invested there much.
  • While Vikramasinghe has been supportive of balancing ties with New Delhi and Beijing.
  • Rajapaksa clarified his desire to accept Chinese money despite inappropriate conditions.
  • In the past, Colombo was forced to sell strategic assets by Beijing when it was not able to fulfill liabilities, such as the Humbertta port.
  • Sri Lanka is also a partner in China’s multipurpose forest belt one road project. More recently, Sri Lankan President Mittal Sirisen had announced that China would make a kidney transplant hospital in Ponnaruwa, 230 kilometers away from Colombo. 
  • Appointment of Rajapakse can be seen as a victory against India’s second largest economy of India because there is a fight between two great powers for supremacy in this region.

Humboldt Harbor The cause of India’s concern

  • China is responsible for the development of Hambantota harbor. Actually, China wants to make its expansionist plan in the Indian Ocean through Hambantota port. 
  • At this time the Mali condition of Sri Lanka is in crisis. Sri Lanka has already been suppressed in Chinese debt. He was unable to return the money to China. Because of the financial constraints, the discussion in the Sri Lankan government was aroused that the port was sold to the Chinese government. If this happens then it will not be in India’s interest.
  • If the Hambantota port takes place in China, its dominance in the Indian Ocean will increase. This domination of China is not in the strategic interest of India. 
  • Apart from this, a special economic zone is connected to the port. This SEZ is spread from about 13-15 thousand acres here. This land of SEZ will be given to China.

Conclusion

The political crisis in Sri Lanka is a matter of great concern for India. Sri Lanka is very important for us because of strategic importance in South Asia. The political crisis that has arisen there can affect the relationship between India and Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, if the situation is not favorable to India, then our interests can be harmed there.
The way in which the political rivalry and cynicism in Sri Lanka is visible, the hope of immediate solution is less visible. As far as India is concerned, it should adopt a weight and watch policy.
Updated: January 3, 2019 — 5:58 am

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