Sri Lanka court set to rule on sacking of parliament

Sri Lanka plunged into crisis in October when he fired then premier Ranil Wickremesinghe. (AP)
Updated 07 December 2018
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Sri Lanka court set to rule on sacking of parliament

  • President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the parliament on Nov. 9, but was overturned by the country's Supreme Court
  • Sacked premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s party and their allies have suggested that they could begin impeachment proceedings again Sirisena depending on the ruling

COLOMBO: Security was stepped up outside Sri Lanka’s top court on Friday ahead of an expected ruling on whether the president broke the law by sacking parliament last month, a decision that could potentially lead to impeachment proceedings.
President Maithripala Sirisena plunged the country into crisis on October 26 when he fired the prime minister and appointed the contentious Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place. He then dissolved parliament on November 9.
Four days later, the Supreme Court issued an interim ruling suspending Sirisena’s decree and restoring parliament, which almost immediately passed a no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa.
The court’s seven-judge bench was likely to deliver a final ruling on the constitutionality of Sirisena’s move on Friday.
“If the morning session is brief, we can expect a decision later today,” a court official said.
Sacked premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s party and their allies, who command a majority in the 225-member assembly, have suggested that they could begin impeachment proceedings again Sirisena depending on the ruling.
Wickremesinghe’s party loyalists believe that the court decision will go in their favor, a view held by many independent lawyers.
Problems for Sirisena were compounded on Monday when the Court of Appeal suspended the entire cabinet and asked Rajapaksa to explain on what authority he was holding office.
With parliamentary proceedings degenerating into brawls, the United States, the European Union and other powers have raised concerns over the crisis in the strategically important island nation of 21 million people.
Only China has recognized the appointment of Rajapaksa, who during his decade as president until 2015 relied heavily on Beijing for diplomatic and financial support.
As president from 2005 until 2015, he ended Sri Lanka’s four-decade civil war in 2009 by crushing the rebel Tamil Tigers.
But 40,000 ethnic Tamils were allegedly massacred in the process. Rajapaksa and his family are also alleged to have profited from his time in power through corrupt deals.
During an earlier stint as prime minister from 2001 until 2004, Wickremesinghe is credited with pulling Sri Lanka out of its first ever recession, in part with reforms that have endeared him to the West.


Version of PM May’s deal can get through parliament: Hunt

Updated 15 December 2018
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Version of PM May’s deal can get through parliament: Hunt

  • May pulled a vote on her deal this week after acknowledging it would be heavily defeated over concerns about the divorce agreement’s “backstop”

LONDON: Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday that the British parliament could back Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal if lawmakers received assurances from the European Union, but warned that a no deal Brexit was still on the table.
May pulled a vote on her deal this week after acknowledging it would be heavily defeated over concerns about the divorce agreement’s “backstop,” an insurance policy designed to avoid any hard land border for Ireland but which critics say could bind Britain to EU rules indefinitely.
“When the dust has settled, the only way we’re going to get this through the House of Commons ... is to have a version of the deal that the government has negotiated,” Hunt told BBC radio.
Following a summit in Brussels on Friday, May said it was possible that the EU could give further guarantees that the backstop would be temporary although the bloc’s other 27 leaders told her they would not renegotiate the treaty.
Hunt said the EU was likely to make concessions to avoid Britain leaving without any deal, a scenario that both sides say would be highly damaging for business and their economies.
“The EU cannot be sure that if they choose not to be helpful and flexible ... that we would not end up with no deal,” Hunt said. “We cannot in these negotiations take no deal off the table. I don’t think the EU could be remotely sure that if we don’t find a way through this we wouldn’t end up with no deal.”
The Times newspaper reported on Saturday that most of May’s senior ministerial team thought her deal was dead and were discussing a range of options including a second referendum.
“Brexit is in danger of getting stuck – and that is something that should worry us all,” pensions minister Amber Rudd wrote in the Daily Mail newspaper.
“If MPs (lawmakers) dig in against the Prime Minister’s deal and then hunker down in their different corners, none with a majority, the country will face serious trouble.”