President Maithripala Sirisena last night escalated a war of words with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, accusing him of disregarding the Constitution, Standing Orders of Parliament and conventions of the House in allowing the passing of a no confidence motion against Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Government.
Issuing a strongly-worded letter to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Sirisena insisted that only the Executive was empowered by the Constitution to appoint the prime minister and rejected the no confidence motion passed in Parliament.
The letter, which was released late on Wednesday night, heaped criticism on Jayasuriya and charged that the latter had overstepped his boundaries as Speaker of the Parliament and used powers beyond his office. He severely censured the Speaker for what he termed was partisan action within Parliament.
The President claimed that the Speaker had ignored the Constitution, Standing Orders and Parliamentary traditions by not following procedure when tabling the no confidence motion.
Referring to the Gazette issued on 26 October after the appointment of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, which was declared null and void in the letter that was sent to President Sirisena with the signatures of 122 Members of Parliament, he insisted that the Gazette could not be considered invalid.
“Parliament has sent me a document that has not been properly certified and expects me to believe this as a verified and true document regarding the passing of the no confidence motion,” he said in the letter.
In the letter to Jayasuriya, President Sirisena also contended that the Speaker’s decision to convene Parliament when a petition remained before the Supreme Court was an act that was tantamount to usurping the powers of the Supreme Court, which was the branch of Government entrusted with interpreting the Constitution.
The President also reminded Jayasuriya that in January 2015 he had appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at the political request of the United National Party (UNP) even though he had only 41 seats in the House and contended that those powers remained relevant despite the passage of the 19th Amendment.