CITIZEN COLUMN

A group of former Sri Lankan Ambassadors and academics yesterday urged the International Community to let the present political crisis in the country be solved internally.

They pointed out that as per the provisions of UN Charter and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, it is not legal for foreign countries to interfere into the internal affairs of another State.

They stated this at a press conference held at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute yesterday.

Head of the Department of Legal Studies of the Open University Dr. Raja Gunaratne said the involvement of foreign powers into the current political crisis in the country is nothing, “but a naked interference”.

Quoting some of the statements issued by countries such as the USA, UK, Canada and Australia and pointed out as to how they were violating these charters or conventions by urging President Sirisena to reconvene Parliament when it was dissolved earlier this month.

He also noted that as per the provisions of the Vienna Convention of 1961, head of any mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission could be declared as ‘persona non grata’ or not acceptable by the receiving state if they interfered with the internal affairs of that country. Such an incident was reported in 1991 when the then President Ranasinghe Premadasa declared the then UK Ambassador to Sri Lanka a ‘persona non grata’ for involving themselves into domestic affairs. “This is an utter violation of international principles,” Dr. Gunaratne said.

Senior Attorney-at-Law, Kanishka Vitharana speaking about the two No-Confidence Motions moved and passed against the Mahinda Rajapaksa government said that there is no legal validity of these motions as they had been moved inconsistent with the Standing Orders.

According to him, the motion by the Opposition to suspend Standing Orders also should have been moved in accordance with the provisions in the Standing Orders but, they had been failed to do so. Therefore, Witharana said that neither the motions on suspending the Standing Orders nor the No-Confidence Motion had been moved in an acceptable manner to Parliament. Former ambassador to the UAE and Israel, attorney Sarath Wijesinghe said since Sri Lanka is a very senior member of the United Nations and a member state of the Vienna Convention, the international community should not interfere with the country’s domestic affairs.

“We are friendly with everybody and angry with none is the thesis of our foreign policy,” he added.

Former ambassador Laksiri Mendis expressing his views on the constitutional provisions on the dissolution of the Parliament by the President said that there is a clash with regard to the power vested with the President on dissolution of the Parliament in the Article 33 (2) and the 70 (1) of the Constitution. However, he was of the opinion that the Article 70 (1), which was brought under the 19th constitutional amendment, is an odd provision and he had not seen such provision in any Commonwealth country.

“The 19th Amendment did not resolve the constitutional issues. The drafters have not transferred the presidential system to a parliamentary system through this amendment. In this context, it is my firm believe that the 19 Amendment must be replaced by a new 19th Amendment,” he said.



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