Among Allegations Stated in the No Confidence Motion Against President Rajapaksa is that he has continuously made decisions based on the counsel of a soothsayer W.M. Gnanawathi alias ‘Gnanakka’,while also using public funds to construct her temple and provide her with military protection.

By Chandani Kirinde

The main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) yesterday handed over two No-Confidence Motions, one against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and another against the Government, to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

The No-Confidence Motion against the Government was handed over after weeks of speculation on whether the Opposition can muster enough votes to get it passed. The motion was signed only by members of the SJB even though the party has been in talks with other groups opposed to the Government to get them to vote for the motion.

Yesterday several SLFP members met with SJB counterparts.

The motion also comes as over 50 SLPP MPs who have chosen to sit in Opposition are in talks with the President to set up an all-party interim Government as a short-term measure to overcome the economic problems facing the country.

The group is also insisting that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet step down to pave the way for new appointments, a proposal so far rejected by the President as well as the Prime Minister. During several rounds of talks with the President, the Prime Minister has assured that he has the support of the majority of members in Parliament and hence there is no reason for him to step down.

Sources at the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday dismissed reports that he will make a special statement in Parliament and step down today even though there is growing opposition from within the SLPP to him remaining in the post.

SJB sources said they will insist on an early date for the debate. A Parliament Business Committee meeting is scheduled for today where a date to hold the debate is likely to be decided upon.

“We want to have the debate next week but it’s unlikely the Government will agree to it. Then it will be taken up in the third week of May,” a senior SJB MP said.

If the motion is passed by the House with a simple majority (majority of members present at the time of voting), the Cabinet will stand dissolved.

The No-Confidence Motion against the President drafted in terms of Article 42, which, even if passed by the House, will not be binding on him to resign from office, levels a number of charges accusing him of causing the ongoing economic crises.

These include the tax cuts that he granted soon after taking office in 2019 which has led to a drop in State revenue by about 25% as well as the ban on the use of chemical fertiliser which has had an adverse impact on the agriculture sector.

The NCM also accused the President of bypassing the due process in handling the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing militarisation, forced cremation of COVID-19 victims, not using the funds from the ‘ITUKAMA’ COVID-19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund for the health sector, illegal declarations of ‘curfew’ and ‘quarantine curfew’ during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic without the necessary Gazette publications as well as purchasing vaccines at a higher price than the stipulated world market price.

The other allegations against the President are that he appointed his brother Basil Rajapaksa as Finance Minister when there were court cases for fraud pending against him, and appointed Ajith Nivard Cabraal as the Governor of the Central Bank by ignoring his previous murky track record in economic decision making.

The Motion said the President has continuously failed to make decisions based on rational, scientific and expert advice and resorted to the counsel of a soothsayer W.M. Gnanawathi alias ‘Gnanakka’, while also using public funds to construct her temple and provide her with military protection.

It also says he abused powers under the Public Security Ordinance by declaring a State of Emergency and a ban on social media for his personal security and thereby infringing on the fundamental rights of the people.

Courtesy; Daily FT