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.

More in World News

default placeholder

Clinton gets down to campaign business with U.S. Rust Belt trip

HARRISBURG, Pa.,  (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took her newly energized White House bid on the road on Friday for a tour of crucial “Rust Belt” states Pennsylvania and Ohio, but the campaign’s focus was clouded by a newly disclosed cyber attack.

default placeholder

Oil rout erodes 2nd-qtr profits for U.S. majors Exxon, Chevron

HOUSTON,  (Reuters) – Chevron Corp posted its worst quarterly loss since 2001 on Friday and Exxon Mobil Corp reported a 59 percent slide in profit, as the long crude price rout and tumbling refining income inflicted pain across the energy sector.

default placeholder

Turkey’s Erdogan slams West for failure to show solidarity over coup attempt

ANKARA/ISTANBUL, (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan condemned Western countries yesterday for failing to show solidarity with Turkey over the recent failed coup, saying those who worried over the fate of coup supporters instead of Turkish democracy could not be friends of Ankara.

default placeholder

Brazil’s Lula to stand trial for obstruction of justice – court

SAO PAULO, (Reuters) – Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and the former chief executive of investment bank Grupo BTG Pactual SA will stand trial for obstruction of justice, documents from a federal court in Brasilia showed yesterday.

John Magufuli

Tanzania’s president threatens crackdown on opposition protesters

DAR ES SALAAM, (Reuters) – Tanzania’s President John Magufuli said yesterday he would crack down on troublemakers “without mercy”, a day after the opposition called for anti-government demonstrations on Sept.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greets her daughter Chelsea Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. (REUTERS/Scott Audette)

In speech of her life, Clinton promises a ‘clear-eyed’ vision

PHILADELPHIA, (Reuters) – U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said yesterday Americans faced challenges at home and abroad that demand steady leadership and a collective spirit, and attacked Republican Donald Trump for sowing fear and divisiveness.

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: