A huge relief | Daily News

A huge relief

It appears there is light at the end of the tunnel after a month long period of darkness for a bemused public unable to comprehend the turn of events unfolding in the country since October 26, with President Maithripala Sirisena, this time saying in no uncertain terms, that he would ensure that the current political crisis would be brought to an end within the next seven days.

Addressing a special convention of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on Tuesday, the President assured the nation that the current political instability would be resolved in one week’s time. Prior to this too time frames had been announced to end the political gridlock during meetings with UNP and TNA delegations. Members of these delegations leaving the Presidential Secretariat, the venue of these meetings, in their plush limousines assured the media that the President had assured them that the crisis would be resolved within a day or two. A UNP MP, after one such meeting, told the media last week that they were given an undertaking that the standoff would be brought to an end within the next 24 hours. Nothing came to pass though.

However, there was finality in the tone of the President on Tuesday making it almost certain that normality will be restored within the next seven days. Perhaps, the President was anticipating the verdicts of the Supreme Court on the dissolution of Parliament and the writ matter that stayed the appointment of the Prime Minister (and the Cabinet), which is to be delivered anytime soon, before making his next move.

No doubt there would be speculation as to what exactly the President was contemplating and which form the solution would take. The President once again made it clear that he would not, under any circumstances, re-appoint Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister. In his address the President also said he would take a decision bearing in mind the country’s future and also its unborn generations. This statement has to be seen in the light of the President’s insistence that he would not re-appoint Ranil as PM and equally, the UNP’s determination that it would not compromise on this score.

Was there a hint that the President is contemplating a Presidential Election, if everything else fails? Even the UNP has called for a Presidential Election first, as against a General Election, or, insists that both polls be held together. With the President determined to break the political logjam and return the country to normality in the quickest possible time, would this be an option if he fails to reach a compromise vis-a-vis insisting on an alternative to Ranil as PM, from the UNP?

Of course the President may have other options, depending on the court rulings, and the public, no doubt, will have their fingers crossed until such time. Be that as it may, the country cannot afford to remain on tenterhooks in anticipation of a final solution. The crisis has already cost the economy dearly while the state machinery remains semi-paralyzed. It is in this backdrop that the President’s directive to all Ministry Secretaries to carry on as before is to be welcomed. This is in the aftermath of the Court of Appeal interim order temporarily removing all ministers and deputy/state ministers from office.

The President issued clear instructions and guidelines to secretaries of ministries to carry out public services without disruption in keeping with the existing laws and regulations. Even at the outset of the crisis, the President issued directives to all members of the Public Service, Armed Forces and police to perform their duties and responsibilities relentlessly on behalf of the State, security, the country and the public, in a situation of this nature.

It is time for all civic-minded individuals to contribute their mite to ensure the country in no way suffers due to the current political impasse. With the Presidential assurance that the crisis will be brought to end within a week, public officials should take the cue and get on with their duties and functions to keep the State machinery going. There has understandably been a reluctance on the part of many officials to commit themselves to tasks in the present political climate. This is more so given the various court cases now being heard where public sector officials had been arraigned for carrying out instructions that were deemed illegal.

Certain UNP MPs have been repeating ad nauseam since the beginning of the crisis that public officials would be held accountable for carrying out instructions issued during this period. This, to any sane mind, is uncalled for since public officials are bound by the Establishment Code to carry out duties on behalf of the State. The UNP edict to public officials to desist from carrying out their official duties is akin to the Deshapremi Janatha Viyaparaya, the armed wing of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, ordering public officials to lay off work on pain of death, during the height of the 1989-90 second JVP insurrection. We certainly need not go back to that mentality again.


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