Opposition agrees to contest Presidential poll under a united front

Saturday, 8 November 2014 00:26 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • BASL asks for two weeks extension to make written and oral submissions on opinion sought by President on third term and calling of Presidential election; individual legal experts send in their opinion

  • JVP files motion to hear opinion in open court

  • Legal chorus raging against MR’s prospective candidacy for a third term

  The broader Opposition yesterday had reached an agreement to contest the next presidential election under a united front. The breakthrough follows several rounds of discussions between various Oppositions parties including the UNP, former President Chandrika Kumaratunga-led SLFP dissidents, the JHU and Ven. Madoluwawe Sobitha Thera. The UNP said it will support a common candidate under a non-elephant symbol. Political analysts said yesterday’s decision is likely to result in a common candidate if and when the next presidential poll is announced. Speculation is rife as to who are the likely contenders for the common candidate slot and the matter is being widely debated and lobbied. Among speculated names are Opposition Leader Ranil Wickramasinghe, Chairman of the Leadership Council Karu Jayasuriya, former President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Ven. Madoluwawe Sobitha Thera. A united effort has been widely recommended if the Opposition was serious about defeating President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is considering running for a third term. Earlier this week, President Rajapaksa sought the opinion of the Supreme Court if there was any impediment to him calling for an election four years into his second six-year term. The court in turn asked the Bar Association to make written submissions with yesterday being the deadline. A five-member bench presided over by Chief Justice Mohan Peiris PC is likely to take up the matter next week. The very action by President Rajapaksa to seek an opinion has come under criticism whilst the legal chorus is raging against his prospective candidacy for a third term. UNP Leader Wickremesinghe pointed out that the Supreme Court opinion on the constitutionality of the President seeking a third term has no validity since there is no legal binding in such an opinion. The BASL has decided not to make any immediate written submissions though several legal experts have sent in theirs. The BASL has noted there was no urgency to give an opinion and had wanted a two-week extension as well as sought oral submissions. “In view of the constitutional and public importance in the name of maintenance of democratic values, it is essential that members of public and especially the BASL, which represents over 14,000 attorneys-at-law, being concerned about matters of constitutional importance, be granted an oral submission,” BASL Chief Upul Jayasuriya told the media yesterday. The JVP, which is so far not within the planned common Opposition front, yesterday filed a motion to appeal to the Supreme Court to hear the opinion sought by the President in open court. The motion was filed by Attorney-at-Law Sunil Watawala, who represented the JVP. Leader of the House, Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva, said that according to the amended Constitution the President will be able to declare his intention to hold a presidential election after 19 November.