Weerawansa baulks at moving SC against 13-A


By Shamindra Ferdinando

 UPFA constituent, National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Minister Wimal Weerawansa would not move the Supreme Court against the 13th Amendment as he was a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) appointed to investigate allegations directed against Chief Justice, Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, NFF spokesman Anuruddha Bandara told The Island yesterday.

Colombo District MP Weerawansa on Saturday (10) declared that he would file a petition in the Supreme Court on Monday seeking the abolition of the 13th Amendment. The petition was in line with the one filed before the then Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva for the de-merger of the Eastern Province from the Northern Province.

Asked whether the NFF had consulted the UPFA as regards its move, Bandara said that his party had made that decision on its own. Bandara quoted senior lawyers as having told Minister Weerawansa to put off planned action. "They are of the opinion Minister Weerawansa shouldn’t go before the Supreme Court until the conclusion of the PSC inquiry," Bandara said. The spokesman dismissed assertion that they had been forced to back down due to the NFF plan not being compatible with the overall UPFA strategy.

Minister Weerawansa’s is the only political party accommodated among the six-member UPFA group in the PSC headed by Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa. Except Weerawansa all others are SLFP representatives, namely Nimal Siripala De Silva, Rajitha Senaratne, Dilan Perera and Neomal Perera.

The NFF was joined by Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka (JHU) in calling on the government to do away with the 13th Amendment.

JHU spokesman Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe told The Island that the NFF hadn’t discussed its plan, to move the Supreme Court, with the JHU, though they had called a joint media briefing to explain their position as regards the 13th Amendment. Warnasinghe said that they hadn’t agreed on a particular strategy, though both parties strongly felt the urgent need to abolish the 13th Amendment.

Responding to a query by The Island, CPSL Secretary General Minister DEW Gunasekera said that his party opposed moves to link three critical issues, namely Divineguma Bill, impeachment of the Chief Justice and ongoing moves to do away with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Senior Minister Gunasekera declined to comment on the impeachment motion and the PSC process. "All I can tell you is that I declined to join the PSC on the CJ," National List MP Gunasekera said.

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa called for the abolition of the 13th Amendment on October 14.

Political sources said that the government was of the view that the 13th Amendment shouldn’t be repealed without reaching an agreement on a mechanism to replace Provincial Councils set up under the 13th Amendment. Sources said that the government was exploring the possibility of initiating a fresh round of dialogue with UPFA constituents as well as Opposition parties to reach an agreement on an alternative system.

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