Former Speaker and the National Movement for Social Justice Chairman, Karu Jayasuriya in a statement yesterday, raised concerns over the failure of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in re-enacting the 19A duly as Mr. Rajapaksa promised to the country.
The full text of the statement made by Mr. Jayasuriya is as follows:
Today I would like to recall once again how our head of state assured the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the international community that he would protect our country’s democracy and the human rights of all Sri Lankans. He also quite publicly stated he would see to the re-enactment of the 19th Amendment in parliament, and claimed he will not object to the abolishment of the executive presidency. Additionally, the President also pledged to the country’s people and its religious leaders that a new constitution would be adopted within a year of coming into power and the provision allowing dual citizens to hold parliamentary seats will be removed.
It must be emphasised that these promises were given by none other than the President of the Republic of Sri Lanka. However, he has failed to deliver to date. No constitution has been brought forward and the promise has been limited to mere words.
One must question then if the international community will trust a head of state that has openly violated promises and assurances given before the world to the people of his own country. Will his countrymen put their trust in him? Will investors trust him? Will those who deal with our country on various levels trust him?
We are ashamed and embarrassed to point out these facts but it must be done as the Sri Lankan government is openly violating the many promises made to its people at its inception. The President must realise these actions would only bring disrepute to not only himself but also to the Sri Lankan people he represents.
It is the view of the majority that the people’s representatives and the public are being forced to live under a dictatorial, cruel and barbaric regime that blatantly violates the principles of democracy as long as the 20th Amendment to the parliament remains in force. The President has powers beyond the judiciary, while the people’s representatives are helpless without power. One man controls the fate of an entire population of over 22 million.
Today there is strong opposition to the 20th Amendment in the country. According to surveys carried out, religious leaders, as well as 82% of the population, believe that the country was destroyed by this Draconian constitution, and therefore it should be scrapped immediately. Quoting a UN report, the weekend papers have reported that nearly five million people are living in poverty while 56,000 children are malnourished. Today we have been left helpless before the world. We are friendless. The country has no recognition and elicits no respect. Recognition and respect cannot be forced. Instead, it must be earned.
Therefore, we call on the government, led by the President, to implement the promised reforms immediately as we have observed the increasing interest regarding these matters among the public.
We make these comments with great responsibility.
We, therefore, request the government to not enrage the people further by presenting various excuses. We hear the same calls from across the country, the struggle and the protests. These calls will only grow stronger. Therefore, we ask the government to not underestimate the rising opposition against it.