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Chandrika & the common candidate

| by Nalin de Silva
Views expressed in this article are author own

( November 12, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) A response to the article by Mr. Mahinda Pathirana that appeared on Wednesday the 5th November 2014 has to be postponed as politics takes precedence over philosophy. It is clear that Mr. Pathirana understands the word, ‘after’, with respect to time and not with respect to any other variable. The word after can be used even with respect to space and in fact it can be engaged with respect to elements in a set, which have a property that can be mapped on to the real line (numbers). If a and b are elements associated with properties that can be arranged in a sequence (mapped on to the real line) then one can have concepts such as a>b (greater than, taller than, after - not necessarily in time, etc., ). I will explain this with respect to paticcasamuppada once politics takes a back seat.

The opposition is still looking for a common candidate though it has forged a joint front. The high commissioners and ambassadors are also involved in the hunt and they are going round the country canvassing for their choice of common candidate. They want to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa for two reasons.

Firstly, they want to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa and send him to the gallows for so-called war crimes. They know that as long as he is the President of the country they cannot bring him before a so-called international jury. Secondly, Rajapaksa as the executive President is a challenge to them more than Rajapaksa without the presidency and definitely more than Karu Jayasuriya or anybody else holding the executive presidency. The man who understands this better than anybody else, Ranil Wickremesinghe; he wants to abolish executive presidency during the time of Mahinda Rajapaksa without postponing it to the next Parliament.

It is in this context that we have to understand the statement made by the President that as long as separatism exists it is necessary to have the executive presidency. Those in the JHU who were of the view that the executive presidency helped defeat Tamil terrorism of the LTTE and the others will have to think hard on what they are doing at present.

The west does not mind having the executive presidency without Mahinda Rajapaksa and their fear is that Rajapaksa will become the executive president for a third time that will see separatism defeated. It is very artificial but it can be defeated only by challenging England. The west is very likely to impose economic sanctions on Sri Lanka giving the separatists the freedom to work against the Sri Lankan government as has been already done by the European Union. We should expect more and more steps taken along these lines by the western countries during the third term of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The Opposition’s clamour for the abolition of executive Presidency has to be understood in the above context and the west more than anybody else is of the view that Wickremesinghe is not the best candidate to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa. They would have gone for Chandrika Kumratunga had Sarath Silva not spoiled her chances with his argument that Mahinda Rajapaksa was not qualified to contest for a third time.

We still do not know the decision of the Supreme Court on the questions referred to it by the President, but Sarath Silva’s argument is valid in the case of Chandrika Kumartaunga. The now well known Article 31(2) of the constitution states: "No person who has been twice elected to the office of President by the people shall be qualified thereafter to be elected to such office by the People." The question that has to be answered is at what point a person becomes disqualified to be elected to the post of President having being elected twice to the Post. Is it at the point of election for the second time or after that at the time of elections to elect the President following the election for the second time?

For a person to be qualified or disqualified to be elected it is necessary to have an election for electing the President of the country. In the case of Mahinda Rajapaksa no election for electing the President of the country had been held after he was elected for the second time while the Article 31(2) was legally binding. Thus so far he has not become disqualified and there is no possibility that he would be disqualified at a future election as the relevant Article has been repealed by the eighteenth amendment.

However, in the case of Kumaratunga she became disqualified to contest for the third time at the elections held in 2005 as the Article 31(2) was legally binding at that time. Once disqualified she is disqualified for ever, unless the barriers are removed by an Act of parliament that amounts to amending the constitution. It is certain that no legislation would be introduced by the present government before the next Presidential election to remove the impediments on Chandrika Kumartaunga to contest at the next Presidential elections.

Thus, the west that loves to see Kumaratunga become the President again would have strongly advised not to come forward as the common candidate. Under the above circumstances Chandrika has no choice but to support another candidate as the common candidate against Rajapaksa.

Karu Jayasuriya is the next choice and the west might be thinking that with his pseudo Sinhala Buddhist leanings he stands some chance of giving Mahinda Rajapaksa a fight at the next Presidential elections. The opponents of Rajapaksa must be thinking that with some subsidiary common candidates they would be able to curtail the vote of Rajapaksa to less than 50% of the valid vote and that they would be in a position to stage an Arab Spring during the nonagatha period between the first count and the second count of preferences. The JVP that claims that the entire presidential election will be illegal if Mahinda Rajapaksa contests will most probably support the Arab Spring. They still have to take a stand on whether they would support a candidate at the presidential elections or not.

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