Sri Lanka president picks ally as chief justice

COLOMBO, (Reuters) – Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed a close ally as chief justice yesterday, two days after he controversially sacked the country’s top judge for impeachment despite opposition from the Supreme Court.

Mohan Peiris, a former attorney general, was sworn in, Presidential spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said.

Around 100 special taskforce police officers were deployed at the Supreme Court as dozens of lawyers held candles in protest over the appointment outside the building in central Colombo.

The dismissal of Shirani Bandaranayake has threatened a constitutional crisis in the small island state which has been finding its feet slowly after a quarter century-long civil war ended in 2009.

Bandaranayake’s removal from office on Sunday was illegal, the Supreme Court has ruled, prompting the United States and United Nations to voice concern.

Opposition lawmakers, religious leaders and lawyers have also expressed concern after parliament, controlled by Rajapaksa’s party, voted on Friday to impeach Bandaranayake, the country’s first female chief justice.

The clash between the government and judiciary has underlined the power wielded by Rajapaksa and his family in the island nation, where he has been president since 2005.

“Today marks the funeral of the independent judiciary,” said Sunil Watagala, a member of Lawyers Collective, a judicial activist group, as other lawyers blew out candles to symbolise the start of a dark era in the court.

Lawyers Collective has urged all Supreme Court judges not to accept Peiris’s appointment.

Police attempted to prevent Bandaranayake from talking to media at her official residence, which she left in the afternoon. “My life is in danger,” she told reporters sitting inside her vehicle before leaving.

In a separate statement she said she had suffered because she stood for an independent judiciary.

“I still am the duly appointed legitimate Chief Justice,” it said.

“(But) since it now appears that there might be violence if I remain in my official residence or my chambers, I am compelled to move out.”

Bandaranayake fell from favour with Rajapaksa after she ruled that the president’s younger brother, Basil Rajapaksa, would need to seek further approvals for his proposal of a $614 million development budget.

Peiris, a 38-year veteran of the legal profession, has served as state counsel, attorney general and legal adviser to the Sri Lankan Cabinet of Ministers.

Political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said in a note that because of his well-known close ties to the Rajapaksa family, Peiris could face questions from the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals on the legality of any decision he makes.

Latest in World News

Boris Johnson

Ex-London mayor Johnson abruptly quits race to be prime minister

LONDON, (Reuters) – Former London mayor Boris Johnson abruptly pulled out of the race to become Britain’s next prime minister today, in a shock move that upturned a political order shaken by last week’s vote to leave the European Union.

(L-R) Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama pose for family photo at the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 29, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

North America leaders mount strong defence of trade despite threats

OTTAWA,  (Reuters) – Canada, the United States and Mexico yesterday mounted a fierce defence of free trade, vowing to deepen economic ties despite an increasingly acrimonious debate about the value of globalization.

default placeholder

Obama urges Venezuela to respect democratic process

OTTAWA, (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday urged the Venezuelan government to respect the democratic process and the rule of law, including allowing the release of political prisoners.

default placeholder

Six Honduran police officers indicted on U.S. drug charges

NEW YORK,  (Reuters) – Six members of the Honduran National Police were indicted yesterday on U.S. charges they participated in drug trafficking activities and conspired with a son of former Honduras President Porfirio Lobo to import cocaine into the United States.

default placeholder

China risks ‘outlaw’ status if it rejects South China Sea ruling -lawyer

WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – An international ruling next month is expected to deprive China of any legal basis for its claim to most of the South China Sea, and Beijing risks being seen as an “outlaw state” unless it respects the outcome, the Philippines’ chief lawyer in the case said yesterday.

default placeholder

Fresh details spur debate on police response to Orlando massacre

(Reuters) – The release of police dispatch records offering new details from witnesses of the Orlando nightclub massacre provided fresh grist yesterday for the debate about whether law enforcement waited too long to take out the gunman.

default placeholder

India’s top court to consider intervening in Muslim ‘triple talaq’ divorce law

NEW DELHI,  (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – India’s Supreme Court said it will examine how far it could interfere in Muslim laws governing family-related issues as it heard a plea to end a practice allowing Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying “talaq” three times.

Malala Yousafzai

Price of fame: Pakistani schoolgirl Malala joins millionaires’ club

LONDON,  (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenage education activist who survived a near-fatal attack by the Taliban, and her family have become millionaires in under four years due to sales of a book about her life and appearances on the global speaker circuit.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: