Direction Sri Lanka – Independent Professionals for the Nation, a group of 58 legal and medical practitioners, drafted a ‘step towards change,’ which was released on 19 April, demanding that the President resigns, paving the way for an Interim National Government with a successor President.
In their draft on resolving the present crisis, they say the President should resign forthwith in response to the demands of the people. Article 38 (1) (b) of the Constitution provides for the resignation of the President by means of a communication addressed to the Speaker and a successor President can be elected. Article 40 (1) (a) of the Constitution provides for Parliament to elect as President one of its Members for the unexpired period of office.
The 14-page draft further notes the possibility of the present situation escalating into a complete breakdown in the Rule of Law resulting in a state of anarchy, and the immediate action that needs to be taken to address this serious situation, within the framework of the Constitution and the Law.
In resolving the problem, they say the Prime Minister can forthwith resign after the election of the successor President under Article 47 (2) (b) of the Constitution, which provides for the resignation of the Prime Minister by means of a communication addressed to the President. Upon the resignation of the Prime Minister, the entire Cabinet stands dissolved.
By this, a Caretaker/ Interim National Government can be immediately formed comprising a new Prime Minister and a Cabinet limited to 18 essential portfolios, along with an equal number of Deputy Ministers, representing all political parties.
The Caretaker/ Interim National Government shall function for a maximum period of one year and the persons holding portfolios in the Caretaker/ Interim Cabinet should have adequate and appropriate educational qualifications and specialised skills required to hold the respective portfolios and should be persons of the highest integrity.
In other measures to resolve the present crisis, the professional group said National List Parliamentarians should be encouraged to resign as necessary, to pave way for professionals/ experts of the highest integrity to be represented in the Caretaker/ Interim National Government.
As a priority during the period of the Caretaker/ Interim National Government, action should be taken to rescind the 20th Amendment and to reintroduce the provisions of the 19th Amendment with necessary amendments addressing democratic governance.
They also suggest that immediately upon the reintroduction of the 19th Amendment, steps should be taken to appoint persons with the highest integrity and ability to the Independent Commissions.
The Caretaker/ Interim National Government can have a moratorium on the sale of the country’s assets (This will not bar investments from coming into the Country subject to due procedures, process, and transparency).
Also, establish through legislation, a transparent Government Procurement Process which ensures accountability and national interest at all times.
The new Interim Government can appoint a group of experts with core competencies in economic management to advise the Government on the steps to be taken to revive the economy.
Based on this advice, the Government can secure bridge financing at concessionary interest rates and conditions. No commercial financing with commercial interest rates should be obtained during this period.
“Conclude agreements with the IMF and other financial agencies following due parliamentary process and with complete transparency,” they said.
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan