Ex-President’s security reduced, 42 policemen removed with immediate effect
By Norman Palihawadena and Harischandra Gunaratne
The government has reduced former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s security with immediate effect. About 42 police personnel including an Assistant Superintendent of Police attached to his security contingent have been withdrawn.
Rajapaksa, asked for comment, confirmed that 42 police personnel detailed to protect him had been removed. He said he had threats to his life as the wartime president with many hardcore LTTE carders being still at large. “My life is in danger,” he said, “some government members have also threatened to hang me,” he said.
Asked why his security had been reduced, the former President said he thought the government had sought to curtail his movements in the wake of the Joint Opposition’s successful May Day rally. “The government is mistaken if it thinks it can frighten me into submission by exposing me to danger,” Rajapaksa said. “Having realised that the days of their government are numbered, they are all out to stop me and the JO even by exposing my life to danger.”
Asked what he was planning to do, the former President said he saw no point in complaining to anyone in authority as the government controlled all state institutions and officials. He said the issue would be raised in Parliament.
All our efforts to contact Police Spokesman DIG Priyantha Jayakody were in vain last night as he did not answer his phone.
Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi, when he was asked whether he was aware that the former President’s had been further reduced, answered in the affirmative. However, he said the provision of VIP security came under the purview of the Law and Order Ministry.
GEETHA UNSEATED: expenses caused to the state by Geetha K
The Court of Appeal yesterday issued an order in the nature of a writ of Quo Warranto declaring that Galle District MP Geetha Kumarasinghe is disqualified to be a Member of Parliament and thus not entitled to hold office as a Member of Parliament. The two-Judge-Bench comprising Court of Appeal (President) Justice Vijith Malalgoda and Justice Preethi Padman Surasena observed that in terms of Article 91(1) (d) (xiii), the first respondent Geetha Kumarasinghe is not qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament since she holds duel citizenship of both Switzerland and Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal directed the Attorney General to take necessary steps to formulate a mechanism to recover the expenses caused to the state by Geetha Kumarasinghe while she was functioning as a Parliamentarian to sit and vote in Parliament, in accordance with the Parliament Election Act.
This is the first time in Sri Lanka the qualifications of a Parliamentarian had been challenged through a writ petition over a dual citizenship issue.
The Court of Appeal made this judgment pursuant to a writ petition filed by five residents of the Galle district challenging the constitutionality of electing popular actress Geetha Kumarasinghe as a Member of Parliament since she holds duel citizenship.
The Court of Appeal maintained that a report submitted by the Department of Immigration and Emigration had confirmed that the first respondent Geetha Kumarasinghe was holding dual citizenship.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal disagreed with several arguments put forwarded by the first respondent. Geetha Kumarasinghe claiming through her counsel that the Court of Appeal does not have the jurisdiction to hear the petition and the five voters do not have locus standi to invoke the Court’s jurisdiction. She further argued that her parliamentary privileges cannot be challenged in a writ petition. The Court disagreed with these arguments and declared that Geetha Kumarasinghe was disqualified to be a Member of Parliament.
The petitioners N.W.E. Buwaneka of Beddegama, J.K.Amarawardhana of Yatalamatta, A.C. Gunasekara of Unawatuna, J.K. Wijesinghe of Ambalangoda and H.L. Prasanna Deepthilal of Galle maintained that Kumarasinghe is a holder of duel citizenship, namely of Sri Lanka and Switzerland, who had contested the 2015 Parliament Election and had not divulged her duel citizenship at the time of submission nominations.
The petitioners had sought an order of writ of Quo Warranto declaring that MP Geethah Kumarasinghe is disqualified to be a Member of Parliament and thus not entitled to hold office as a Member of Parliament.
The petitioners had cited Geetha Sanammali Kumarasinghe, M.N. Ranasinghe Controller General of Immigration and Emigration, Prof. Vishwa Warnapala the Secretary of the UPFA, Dhammika Dasanayake the Secretary General of Parliament as respondents. They stated that by virtue of the constitution, in particular section 20 of the 19th amendment to the constitution, Article 91(1)(d)(xiii), she is not qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament. The relevant provision stated that a citizen of Sri Lanka who is also a citizen of any other country shall not be qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament or to sit and vote in Parliament.
The petitioners stated that due to public interviews of the first respondent published in the media, they were of the reasonable apprehension that she was a holder of a duel citizenship and that she was a citizen of Switzerland.
The Attorney General had earlier informed Court that there is no evidence even up to now to prove that Galle District Parliamentarian Geetha Kumarasinghe has abandoned her Switzerland citizenship.
President’s Counsel J.C. Weliamuna with counsel Pulasthi Hewamana and Sulakshana Senanayake appeared for the petitioners. President’s Counsel Manohara de Silva appeared for Geetha Kumarasinghe. Deputy Solicitor General Janak de Silva appeared for the Attorney General.