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President’s Dissolution of Parliament Unconstitutional: Sri Lanka’s Court

The push to oust Rajapaksa dragged Sri Lanka's parliament into chaos.

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Sri Lanka, Parliament, Prime minister
Supporters of ousted Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe celebrate outside the supreme court complex in Colombo. VOA

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has ruled that President Maithripala Sirisena’s move to dissolve parliament last month was illegal.

In a unanimous decision announced Thursday, the seven-member court said that Sirisena violated the constitution when he called a snap election nearly two years before the parliamentary session was due to end.

The decision adds another chapter to a political crisis that began on on October 26, when President Sirisena fired Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, claiming that an informant told police that a Cabinet minister was part of a plot to assassinate him.

Sri Lanka, parliament
Ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe holds a copy of the constitution of Sri Lanka as he attends a media briefing at his official residence in Colombo, Oct. 29, 2018. VOA

He replaced Wickremesinghe with Mahinda Rajapaksa, the country’s former president and strongman, then suspended parliament the next day. In an apparent bow to international pressure, Sirisena summoned lawmakers back to work last Monday.

But when it became apparent that Rajapaksa would not survive a no-confidence vote, Sirisena dissolved parliament on November 9 and called for snap elections. The Supreme Court overruled the president’s decree in a ruling issued just days later.

Wickremesinghe has remained in the prime minister’s official residence in Colombo in defiance of Sirisena’s actions.

Sri Lanka, Parliament
Newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa speaks during the parliament session in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Nov. 15, 2018. VOA

The push to oust Rajapaksa dragged Sri Lanka’s parliament into chaos. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya held a voice vote on November 14 on the no-confidence motion after Rajapaksa’s supporters staged an noisy, impromptu protest in the chamber before debate began.

Also Read: Sri Lanka On The Brink of ‘Economic Anarchy’

The next day, rival lawmakers exchanged blows after Jayasuriya declared that Sri Lanka had no prime minister or a cabinet, with some of Rajapaksa’s supporters hurling water bottles and other objects at Jayasuriya. (VOA)

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World Wildlife Conference to Discuss Tackling Illegal Trade in Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora

Tackling the illegal trade in endangered wild fauna and flora and strengthening trade rules for fisheries, timber, and exotic pets

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World, Wildlife, Conference
FILE - Radiated tortoises, originally a native species of southern Madagascar, are on display during an annual flora and fauna expo in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 29, 2010. VOA

Tackling the illegal trade in endangered wild fauna and flora and strengthening trade rules for fisheries, timber, and exotic pets are just a few of the many controversial and emotional issues to be discussed over the next two weeks at a World Wildlife Conference opening in Geneva Saturday.

Thousands of delegates are expected to gather at Geneva’s cavernous Palexpo Exhibition center.  They will be lobbying for their pet wildlife projects through elaborate, imaginative displays and persuasive talk fests.

The 183 Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, is hosting this extravaganza.  CITES sets the rules for international trade in wild animals and plants.

Governments interested in changing the levels of protection that CITES provides have submitted 56 new proposals for discussion.  These, says CITES range from proposals to ensure trade in at-risk species remains sustainable to calls for a ban on trade in species threatened by extinction.

World, Wildlife, Conference
FILE – Conference attendees walk by a display of elephants and other wildlife at The International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, in Honolulu. VOA

One of the hot button issues on the agenda is that of the conservation of African elephants.  Chief of CITES Scientific Services, Tom De Meulenaer, says the debate on trade in elephant ivory has been raging for 25 years.  He says three new proposals will be under debate.

“Two of them are coming from southern African countries and they seek to liberate or to open up trade in ivory again,” said De Meulenaer. “There is a third proposal from other countries in Africa, which is in competition with this one because it seeks to close all trade in ivory.  Obviously, these three proposals are not compatible and will be subject of deliberations by the COP (Conference of the Parties).”

The conference also will consider new wildlife trade rules on an array of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and plants.  A topic likely to generate a lot of interest is whether to exempt musical instruments made of precious wood from trees protected by CITES.

Bass guitars, violins, clarinets and other musical instruments are made wholly or partially from Rosewood and other precious woods.  Organizers promise a fascinating debate with prominent members of the music industry.

Also Read- First CNG station Opened in Dibrugarh, Assam

One of the overarching problems threatening the survival of many wild animals and plants is that of illegal international trade in wildlife.  CITES warns the growing involvement of organized crime groups increases the risks faced by enforcement officers such as park rangers.

The conference is not just a talking shop.  It has teeth.  CITES is a legally binding treaty.  So, officials say anything decided at the conference will have a concrete impact on citizens, businesses and governments in 90 days when the new rules come into effect. (VOA)