Sri Lanka’s president on Sunday defended his controversial sacking of parliament, saying violent clashes among rival MPs could have led to “civil unrest” across the country if the legislature had met.
Maithripala Sirisena said there were media reports that politicians would clash during a vote to decide between two men claiming the premiership after he controversially sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last month.
“If I allowed the parliament to meet on November 14, there would have been violence in the House and it could have spread to our villagers and towns,” Sirisena said in a televised address to the nation. “I acted to prevent civil unrest.”
Addressing the nation for the third time since ousting the former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointing Mahinda Rajapaksa to replace him, the President explained the circumstances leading to the dissolution of the Parliament very briefly.
The President said the first reason was the trading of members of parliament to show majority.
Watch the speech here
He noted that by the last week, in the highest institute that represents people’s sovereignty the individual worth of Members of Parliament was estimated as Rs 100 million to Rs 150 million, and in some instances as high as Rs 500 million.
That was one of the main reasons for the dissolution of the Parliament. The second reason was the most shocking behavior of the former Speaker, Mr. Karu Jayasuriya.
“I wish to state, that his behavior of disregarding Standing Orders and Parliamentary Conventions and attempting not to recognize the appointment of a Prime Minister by the President exercising his Presidential powers was the second reason for dissolving the Parliament.”
President Sirisena also said that he dissolved the parliament to prevent a physical fight when the parliament reconvened on the 14th November.
He said that statements of some MPs from both sides were issued through various discussions in the media predicting a huge physical fight when the parliament reconvenes on the 14th, even resulting in loss of life. That was the third reason as he could not allow a bloodbath to happen among the civil community in the country.
The President also reminded all political parties that using state vehicles, state resources and public property is strictly prohibited for election campaign purposes.
“Hence, we give our full cooperation to the Election Commission, Public Officers, Police and the Armed Forces to conduct this election. You know that the responsibility of the leaders of the political parties, ministers, candidates, supporters of candidates and the public is to hold a peaceful democratic election with understanding and without conflicts during campaigning,” the President said.
The President also ordered all Ex-ministers and MPs to immediately return all government vehicles and resources to the respective Ministerial Secretary adding that if anyone fails to do so that he would deploy Sri Lanka Police and enforce the law.