Feature Article

Future of Sri Lanka’s peace hangs in balance

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 04 November 2003, 12:10 GMT]
Prospects for ending the island’s two-decade-old conflict dimmed fast Tuesday as the status of the cease-fire agreement (CFA), which was signed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in February 2002, became uncertain after President Kumaratunga snatched the ministry of defence from his government Tuesday. “We are carefully monitoring and studying the developments. Based on this, our leadership will decide what to do," Mr. Daya Master, the Media Co-ordinator of the LTTE told TamilNet.

President Kumaratunga has been demanding drastic changes in the CFA that have been strongly opposed by the LTTE.

President’s Kumaratunga’s party Tuesday categorically rejected the LTTE’s proposals for setting up an Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA), foreclosing the possibility of restarting the peace talks that were stalled six months ago.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government said that it would resume talks with the Tigers despite differences between the LTTE’s ISGA proposal and its own that was submitted to the Tigers earlier.

“The two weeks of the prorogation of Parliament will be crucial. The President has to get the JVP’s full backing, woo the Muslim Congress and its rebel group that have been sitting on the fence for some time now and have been speaking against the peace talks intended to throw the spanner in the works and very importantly inveigle at least 7-8 UNP Parliamentarians to form a government when the Parliament resumes sittings," said Mr. Selvam Adaikalanathan, Tamil National Alliance MP for Vanni.

The TNA has 15 MPs in Sri Lanka’s 225-seat legislature.

Analysts say though she can dissolve Parliament and go for fresh elections, President Kumaratunga is not keen to do so because her move would be seen by the general Sinhala population as one that denied them the further dividends of peace promised by Mr. Ranil Wicremesinghe’s government.

The following are relevant section of Sri Lanka’s constitution, which empower the President to dissolve or prorogue Parliament.

Chapter XI (of the Sri Lankan constitution)

Procedure and Powers

70. (1) The President may, form time to time, by Proclamation summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament: Provided that-

(a) Subject to the provisions of sub-paragraph (d), when a General Election has been held consequent upon a dissolution of Parliament by the President, the President shall not thereafter dissolve Parliament until the expiration of a period of one year from the date of such General Election, unless Parliament by resolution requests the President to dissolve Parliament;

70 (3): A proclamation proroguing Parliament shall fix a date for the next session, not being more than two months after the date of the Proclamation: Provided that at any time while Parliament stands prorogued the President may by Proclamation- (i) summon Parliament for an earlier date, not being less than three days from the date of such Proclamation, or (ii) subject to the provisions of this Article, dissolve Parliament.

70 (4): All matters which, having been duly brought before Parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation of Parliament, may be proceeded with during the next session.


70 (1)
(b) The President shall not dissolve Parliament on the rejection of the Statement of Government Policy at the commencement of the first session of Parliament after a General Election;
(c) Subject to the provisions of sub-paragraph (d), the President shall not dissolve Parliament after the Speaker has entertained a resolution complying with the requirements of subparagraphs (a) and (b) of paragraph (2) of Article 38, unless-
(i) such resolution is not passed as required by sub-paragraph (c) of paragraph (2) of Article 38;
(ii) the Supreme Court determines and reports that the President has not become permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office or that the President has not been guilty of any of the other allegations contained in such resolution;
(iii) the consequent resolution for the removal of the president is not passed as required by sub-paragraph (e) of paragraph (2) of Article 38; or
(iv) Parliament by resolution requests the President to dissolve Parliament;
(d) Where the President has not dissolved Parliament consequent upon the rejection by Parliament of the Appropriation Bill, the President shall dissolve Parliament if Parliament rejects the next Appropriation Bill.

70 (2)
Parliament shall be summoned to meet once at least in every year.

70 (5)
a) A proclamation dissolving Parliament shall fix a date or dates for the election of Members of Parliament, and shall summon the new Parliament to meet on a date not later than three months after the date of such Proclamation.
(b) Upon the dissolution of Parliament by virtue of the provisions of paragraph (2) of Article 62, the President shall forthwith by Proclamation fix a date or dates for the election of Members of Parliament, and shall summon the new Parliament to meet on a date not later than three months after the date of such Proclamation.
(c) The date fixed for the first meeting of Parliament by a Proclamation under sub-paragraph (a) or sub-paragraph (b) may be varied by a subsequent Proclamation, Provide that the date so fixed by subsequent Proclamation shall be a date not later than three months after the date of the original Proclamation.
(6) Where the poll for the election of the President is to be taken on a date which falls between the date of dissolution of Parliament and the date before which Parliament is required by paragraph (5) of this Article to be summoned to meet Parliament shall not withstanding anything in that paragraph, be summoned to meet on a date not later than four months after the date of dissolution of Parliament.
(7) If at any time after the dissolution of Parliament, the President is satisfied that an emergency has arisen of such a nature that an earlier meeting of Parliament is necessary, he may be proclamation summon the Parliament which has been dissolved to meet on a date not less than three days form the date of such proclamation and such Parliament shall stand dissolved upon the termination of the emergency or the conclusion of the General Election, whichever is earlier.

Troops posted--Kumaratunga's power grab
Sri Lanka Army personnel posted in front of the Government Press


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