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  News

OPA hints at impeachment possibility

The Organisation of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka (OPA) has dispatched a strongly worded letter to President Mahinda Rajapakse on Friday (29) hinting at the possibility of impeaching the Chief Executive for the non-appointment of the Constitutional Council.

OPA President, Elmore M. Perera wrote to President Mahinda Rajapakse on Friday (29) where the letter clearly stated that there was no reason to not appoint the Constitutional Council (CC) which may tantamount to a willful violation of the constitution and such violations by the Chief Executive attracted ‘certain sanctions,’ a clear reference to the possibility of impeachment.

The OPA letter urged President Mahinda Rajapakse to activate the CC adding that the Chief Executive’s procrastination without making the mandatory appointments necessary to activate the CC is ‘surprising, inexplicable and unacceptable.’

The letter sets out the backdrop created by the 1978 Constitution that empowered the executive president to make appointments to virtually any post in state organisations at his/her discretion, a power abused by all incumbent presidents.

It adds that by 2001, this had reached such alarming proportions that the constitution was unanimously amended with the express approval of all political parties agreeing specifically to curtail this discretion vested in the president, and to vest same in a "Constitutional Council" established to exercise such powers.

The OPA President has observed that as a result, the incumbent president when elected on November 17, 2005, was only vested with these ‘significantly reduced powers.’

The letter stresses that the it should be understood that the 17th Amendment by now was an integral part of our Constitution since October 3, 2001, and that the Select Committee, appointed on July 18, 2006, is to report on proposed amendments to the Constitution which amendments will require a 2/3rd majority in Parliament and perhaps a referendum, to vest in the President the powers that were deliberately removed unanimously by Parliament in 2001, by the 17th Amendment.

The OPA in the letter has acknowledged several practical problems that needed to be rectified that led to patently flawed appointments being made and also the actions of such appointees.

Elmore Perera further states: " Your Excellency is, no doubt, well aware that any further delay in activating the Constitutional Council will be tantamount to "an intentional violation of the Constitution, "which violation attracts certain sanctions provided for in the Constitution." The OPA also urged the president to uphold the Constitution by making the necessary appointments, without any further delay, and to activate the Constitutional Council. The letter was also copied to Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara, Prime Minister, Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Constitutional Affairs Minister, D. E. W. Gunasekera and all political party leaders.

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