BASL calls for National Unity Govt

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The Executive Committee of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) is of the view that newly-appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe should, at the earliest possible stage, demonstrate his ability to establish a consensus among political parties in Parliament and endeavour to build a representative government of national unity to implement a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) in the interests of the people.

In a statement, the BASL stated that it is also imperative that the Government establishes a clear timeline to introduce critical constitutional amendments, proposed by the BASL, including the introduction of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution and the abolition of the Executive Presidency. In this period of tremendous uncertainty, disaffection and suffering it is vital that the new Government acts with transparency and purpose of vision so as to restore confidence among the citizens of this country and the various international and domestic actors whose assistance is required in this moment of crisis.

The Executive Committee of the BASL noted that the appointment of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers are important steps to restore economic and political stability in Sri Lanka. As such it is necessary that such appointments are made in a manner which will establish public confidence.

On 23 April, the BASL submitted its proposals to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to restore political and economic stability in Sri Lanka. The Management Committee of the Bar Association met the President on his invitation on the 8 May at the President’s House at his invitation to discuss the Proposals. On that day the President indicated broad agreement with the Proposals including the establishment of a Government of National Unity.

The BASL proposals are as follows:

“Establish an Interim Government of National Unity consisting of 15 Cabinet Ministers. The Prime Minister to be a Member of Parliament who is able to establish a consensus among all political parties recognized by the Speaker in Parliament on the national economy and to enact necessary reforms.”

The essence of the proposal was that in the face of the present political and economic instability it was necessary to appoint a Prime Minister who is able to establish a consensus among all political parties within Parliament, rather than merely relying on the existence of a parliamentary majority.

This proposal is fundamental to achieving the overall requirement of the Proposals which was to establish a ‘stable Government with the ability to carry out reforms domestically and the ability/credibility to negotiate with the IMF, other multilateral agencies, and friendly countries to help Sri Lanka get out of the economic crisis. The ability to carry out domestic reforms necessarily envisages a Government which can secure the confidence of the People.