With reference to the comments by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa on the legitimacy of the mandate of President Ranil Wickremesinghe to hold that office and the demand for a Presidential election to seek a fresh mandate, Former Parliament Secretary General Priyanee Wijesekera has responded with the following facts.
“Our Constitution, by article 40 provides for a process of succession in the event of a vacancy occurring in the post of Executive President. This provision was used previously when the late D. B. Wijetunga was elected by the Parliament following the assassination of President R. Premadasa. On that occasion there was not a hum of protest and in fact the then Leader of the Opposition Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike fully supported the move.
“Even under the previous Constitution of 1947 it was legitimate for Mrs. Bandaranaike to be appointed as Prime Minister from the Senate. Thus she too was not elected by popular election.
Furthermore in the current situation we should remember that even the present opposition accepted the validity of the provision in Article 40 when they nominated Mr .Dulles Allahapperuma to challenge Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe’s candidature. Therefore it should be accepted that the current President holds a valid constitutional mandate to hold the position.
Furthermore when calling for the holding of a Presidential election prematurely, attention should be drawn to Article 31(3a)e of the Constitution which states that a person who succeeds to the post of Executive President is not entitled to call for a fresh mandate after 4 years in office,” Ms. Wijesekera said.
“It should be clear to everyone that a popular mandate at the elections is no guarantee of the ability of the winner to handle the job. This was amply demonstrated by Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakse’s resignation in acceptance of that fact. Democracy is based on Constitutional government and the rule of law, not mass hysteria,” she pointed out.