Only President has power to call for a referendum — Mahinda

by Rohan Mathes
Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said only the President has powers to call for a referendum according to the constitution of the country and that the government cannot call for a referendum on its own.

"Only the President can call for a ‘referendum’ according to our present constitution", he said at a press briefing at his office. He also said that the cabinet could also bring a bill to parliament and if it got a two thirds majority the parliament or the Supreme Court would have the powers to call for a referendum.

Opposition Leader Rajapaksa declined to comment on the charge made by PA Spokesman Mangala Samaraweera at a PA press briefing last week that the PA would arrest Minister G. L. Peiris as a traitor soon after a PA government is formed. "I am not aware of it. I have not heard of it", he said.

Mahinda Rajapaksa responding to a question said that the PA didn’t think an election was required at this time and that the President would call for an election at the appropriate time. "When she thinks the time is right she will call for an election," he said.

He also recollected the significance of the ‘Renaissance’ of the late leader S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike’s concept of the "Pancha Maha Bala Wegaya", the sangha, weda, guru, govi and kamkaru, saying that this concept was of great significance now, at a time when all these progressive forces had withered in power and needed revival. He claimed that the victories won and the progress made during that era by the nationalisation of insurance, the port and the CTB had been reversed by the present regime. He called upon all the progressive forces of the country and the common man to rally round the PA for the ‘resurgence’ of that fallen era and bring back the ‘alternative rural leadership’ to the fore.

Governor Alavi Moulana addressing the media said that during the Arab-Israel conflict, the late Bandaranaikes voiced their dissent at the United Nations fearlessly in solidarity with the Muslims of this country and the whole world, but now the present Government did nothing to defend our friendly people of Iraq. He also urged journalists to protest against the killing of 25 journalists by the coalition forces of President Bush.